Winter Planning Toolkit modules

Module 2: Preventative measures

Hand hygiene

Last revised: 05 Jun 2023

Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is the most effective action you can perform to reduce healthcare-associated infections. According to the RACGP Infection prevention and control guidelines: The use of alcohol-based handrub is now recommended for routine hand hygiene for dry, visibly clean hands, except after using the toilet, before handling or eating food/drink, or when norovirus or Clostridioides difficile is present or suspected – antimicrobial soap is recommended in these instances. Soap and water are recommended when hands are visibly soiled. Patients should also be involved in hand hygiene and provided with the opportunity to clean their hands.

Hands must be cleansed (following standardised procedures for hand hygiene) before and after every episode of patient contact and after activities that may cause contamination. These include:

  • before and after eating
  • before and after routine use of gloves
  • after handling any used medical devices (eg instruments or equipment)
  • after going to the toilet
  • when visibly soiled or perceived to be soiled
  • before and after every procedure
  • before and after any contact with patients
  • before handling or packaging clean equipment. Appropriate gloves (e.g. puncture and chemically resistant, utility or heavy duty gloves) should be worn at all times when handling contaminated medical devices
  • before undertaking a RAT.

The RACGP Infection prevention and control guidelines table each method for hand hygiene, highlighting when each is needed, the technique used, and duration and drying needed.

5 moments for hand hygiene

‘5 moments for hand hygiene’ is a simple strategy developed by the World Health Organization and adopted by the National Hand Hygiene Initiative to:

  • protect patients from transmission of infectious agents from the hands of healthcare workers
  • help to protect patients from infectious agents (including their own) entering their bodies during procedures
  • protect healthcare workers and the healthcare surroundings from acquiring patients’ infectious agents.

The 5 moments of hand hygiene

  1. Before touching a patient
  2. Before a procedure
  3. After a procedure or body substance exposure risk
  4. After touching a patient
  5. After touching a patient’s surroundings.

Source: National Hand Hygiene Initiative
Reference: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. National Hand Hygiene Initiative manual. Sydney, NSW: ACSQHC; 2019

The National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI) has developed a suite of resources and posters to display in your practice.

This event attracts CPD points and can be self recorded

Did you know you can now log your CPD with a click of a button?

Create Quick log