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    A Dirty Little Secret

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | December 4th, 2016

    A Dirty Little Secret

    Maybe, I should not call it a secret since you can look it up on the internet, but no one is really talking about it. Here it is – Not all health care providers wash their hands. According to the CDC, health care workers clean their hands less than half the times they should. One in 25 hospital patients on any given day has at least one healthcare-associated infection. What this means is that you come into the hospital for one thing and while you are in the hospital you get an infection that you would not have gotten if you were not admitted to the hospital. When healthcare providers do not wash their hands, it puts patients at risk whether you are in the hospital or in the office.

    December 4 – 10th is National Hand-washing Awareness WeekHand-washing hygiene is important for all of us, not just health care providers.

    Hand-washing is considered the “do-it-yourself” vaccine. It is the best way to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent us from passing germs to others.

    There are five simple steps to hand-washing:

    Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap

    Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap (does not matter whether is antimicrobial or not). Lather the back of hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

    Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

    Rinse your hands well under clean, running water

    Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them (if you need to turn the knob use the towel after you have dried your hand)

    Watch the video.

    If soap and water is not available, you can use a hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer should be alcohol-based containing at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer are not effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

    You use a hand sanitizer by applying the product to the palm of one hand, rub your hands together. Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

    You should wash your hands:

    • Before, during and after preparing food
    • Before eating food
    • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound
    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
    • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
    • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
    • After handling pet food or pet treats
    • After touching garbage

    It is okay for you to remind your health care provider to wash their hands – You might say “I am worried about germs, could you please wash your hands before touching me”


    It is also National Influenza Vaccination Week. If you have gotten your flu vaccine, please do. Check out the previous blog in 2015, during this week. How do you prevent the flu – wash hands often, avoid close contact with anyone who has flu symptoms and get the annual flu vaccine.






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