Hand Hygiene


What is Hand Hygiene?

Hand hygiene refers to removing or killing germs (microorganisms) on a person's hands by alcohol hand rub or soap and water. These germs may have been picked up during contact with patients, contaminated equipment or the environment.

Why is it important?

Staff, patients and visitors may also unknowingly bring germs into the hospital setting. Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of health care-associated infections.

What is the best method for cleaning or sanitizing my hands?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred method of hand hygiene, but soap and water should be used whenever hands are visibly soiled. Hand sanitizer is preferred because it kills more bacteria, the emollients in it help to protect skin and it is more readily available.

  • UHN measures and reports hand hygiene compliance before and after health care providers have contact with patients.

As a Patient

Washing hands is the best way to fight the spread of infection. Wash your hands often. It is a good idea to ask everyone - your health care team and visitors – to clean their hands.

When should health care providers clean their hands?

  • Before contact with a patient
  • Before performing sterile procedures
  • After possible or known contact with a bodily fluid
  • After contact with a patient

UHN Hand Hygiene Compliance Rates

UHN volunteers perform audits on individual units at each of our UHN sites.

This data is shared every 3 months with the units and helps to improve compliance and ensure safety for all patients and staff at UHN.

All resources are in PDF  format unless otherwise indicated.

For more information please visit the Health Quality Ontario website.

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