Hand Washing or “Hand Hygiene”

I’ll never forget the patient who made me take hand washing seriously. Before I met her, I made sure to use hand sanitizer before I went in and out of a room. But I was a young nurse; I didn’t fully understand the difference between using an alcohol-based cleaner and washing my hands in running water. Washing your hands, I learned, is the most effective method to remove germs and other contagions. 

Luckily, I was working with a nurse mentor who was pretty intense about hand washing. Everywhere we went that day, we washed our hands at the sink. By the end of our shift, we had cared for 6 patients and I had washed my hands about 40 times. Time for some facility approved lotion!

At the end of this long day, a fax came with a two letter word no nursing home staff wants to read: C. diff , infectious diarrhea. It was one of the patients we had cared for that day! Yet thankfully by the next shift the infection had not spread and my other patients were fine. Can you believe it? That’s all it took to prevent the spread of infection, just good ol’ fashioned hand washing.


 To prepare for the nurse assistant (NAC) skills exam, here is an instructional video on hand hygiene. The first steps is introducing yourself, because when you greet your patient before giving care you should be simultaneously washing your hands. 

Nurse Assistant Skills Testing Tip: Hand hygiene is the first skill that everyone will be tested on. Try to wash your hands, following the proper procedure, in under 3 minutes to save time on the test for more challenging skills. 

Do you have a story of a near-miss situation involving hand hygiene? Share with us below!

Author: CNAstudent.com

Hi! I'm Nerissa, RN, BSN. I teach at a nursing assistant training program in Washington state. I work as an nurse educator and love to travel, hang out with my dog, and write in my free time.

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