Overview – Hand hygiene
The spread of infection is reduced by effective hand hygiene. Gloves are not a substitute for hand cleaning.
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.
Note: When Clostridioides difficile is present or suspected, alcohol-based handrub can be used in place of soap if gloves are put on after using handrub.
Hand-hygiene facilities must be readily accessible to patients and staff and installed in or near all patient management areas including treatment areas and consulting areas.
Hand-hygiene products must be correctly selected to achieve adequate cleaning and disinfection.
If hands are washed with soap and water, they must be thoroughly dried using paper towels (for routine hand hygiene and before standard aseptic procedures) or sterile paper towels (before surgical aseptic procedures).
All staff must be educated on effective hand hygiene and hand care.
Practices could also encourage patients to practise good hand hygiene, for example by displaying posters in waiting areas.
The National Hand Hygiene Initiative provides information and resources, including education.