Hand hygiene refers to the use of soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs and other products to clean hands.

These products are used by healthcare workers, patients and visitors in hospitals and clinics to clean hands and so prevent spreading infection from one place or person to another. The aim is for healthcare workers to perform hand hygiene correctly.

Hand hygiene in hospitals is measured through an audit process, in which trained observers watch for points in time, called "moments", when hand washing or cleaning with alcohol rubs ought to occur to ensure good infection control practices. The five ‘moments’ are:

  • before touching a patient
  • before carrying out a procedure, such as cleaning a wound, putting a line into a vein
  • after a procedure or body fluid exposure risk
  • after touching a patient
  • after touching a patient’s surroundings.

Why is this measure important?

Good hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to minimise the risk of healthcare-associated infections. Visual observation is the best way of ensuring that good hand hygiene is being carried out within a hospital.

What are we doing to continue to improve?

Our auditors have been trained so they can give feedback to staff to make sure they are performing hand hygiene when required in their day to day care of patients. This will reduce the risk of infection in our patients. Once the audits have been completed, each ward or department can monitor their compliance with the standards using our online systems / applications. The compliance is a measure of the moments where hand hygiene was successfully done over the total number of moments observed, as a percentage. Ward staff, patients and consumers are given feedback on the compliance. All staff are required to complete online hand hygiene education.

How can you help us to improve hand hygiene

While staff take the lead on hand hygiene compliance, you play a critical role in helping to prevent infections by following the same principles. We ask that:

  • visitors wash their hands with soap and water or use hand rub / cleaning gel before and after patient and consumer contact. Hand rub/cleaning gel pumps are available in public areas of RMH, at ward entrances and throughout ward areas.
  • patients and consumers wash their hands after visiting the toilet, blowing their nose and before all meals.
  • anyone with a fever, cold or flu symptoms, diarrhoea or vomiting should not visit the hospital until they are well, for the sake of patients’ and consumers’ safety.

We also encourage you to speak up and remind healthcare teams / clinicians to wash their hands.

What matters to you, matters to us. Find out more information about how we will work with you to keep you safe while you’re in hospital.