CDC: Healthcare Pros Killing Patients by Not Washing Hands Half Enough

Craig Bannister | May 5, 2016
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Patients are dying because healthcare professionals don’t wash their hands half enough, so a new CDC campaign “reminds docs, nurses that ‘Clean Hands Count.’”

Today, on World Hand Hygiene Day, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) launched a campaign urging healthcare professionals to prevent deadly healthcare-associated infections by doubling their daily hand-washing:

Although hand contact is known to be a major way germs spread in medical facilities, studies show that some healthcare professionals don’t follow CDC hand hygiene recommendations. On average, healthcare professionals clean their hands less than half of the times they should:

“Patients depend on their medical team to help them get well, and the first step is making sure healthcare professionals aren’t exposing them to new infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Clean hands really do count and in some cases can be a matter of life and death.”

As many as 75,000 patients die each year due to infections they picked up while in the hospital, the CDC cautions:

An estimated 722,000 healthcare-associated infections occur each year in U.S. hospitals, and about 75,000 patients with these infections die during their hospital stays. Healthcare providers should follow good hand hygiene practices, such as cleaning their hands before and after every patient contact.

How often should doctors and nurses wash their hands? The CDC recommends “as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift depending on the number of patients and intensity of care.”

CDC’s new campaign uses social media messaging and infographics to catch doctors’ and nurses’ attention, and to dispel myths about hand hygiene – and even advocates a “See Something, Say Something” approach:

“The initiative also encourages patients and their loved ones to ask their healthcare team to clean their hands if they don’t see them do so before providing care.”

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