World Hand Hygiene Day May 5

This day reminds us that hand hygiene is important today, and every day.

And it is especially important in healthcare settings where hand hygiene reduces the risk of patients contracting infections and developing sepsis.
 
This year, the global theme for World Hand Hygiene Day is ‘It’s in your hands – prevent sepsis in health care’, set by the Private Organization for Patient Safety and the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
As part of World Hand Hygiene Day, we have developed an easy to remember call to action in the form of 3 steps, with the aim to help healthcare professionals (HCPs) reduce infections and sepsis among patients.
 
Think hygiene. Act to prevent. Care for patients. Or put more simply: Think. Act. Care.
 
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Sepsis prevention

Sometimes incorrectly referred to as blood poisoning, sepsis is defined by a life-threatening organ dysfunction due to a dysregulated host response to infection.1  In other words, sepsis is the complication of a pre-existing infection.
 
Each year, sepsis causes on average six million deaths worldwide – it’s the primary cause of death from infection and it’s more common than heart attacks. In fact, sepsis is a contributing factor in one third of all hospital deaths.2,3,4
   
Prevention is therefore key to avoid sepsis and contain its devastating outcomes. You can use the following four pillars as a basis for preventing sepsis among patients:
 
Preventive care
As sepsis is the body’s response to an infection, the first step is making sure that a patient does not initially develop that infection. You can achieve this through careful preventive care e.g. appropriate management of skin condition, foot care, pressure relief mattresses and vaccines.
 
Treating infections
If a patient still develops an infection, it needs to be closely monitored and managed. Make sure that you are familiar with and apply your local antimicrobial stewardship guidelines to ensure that your patient’s condition does not evolve into critical state.
 
Hand hygiene
Hand hygiene has a crucial part to play in the prevention of microbial cross-transmission from HCPs to patients. By following the WHO’s 5 moments of hand hygiene tool, you can make a difference and perform hygiene at appropriate times.
 
Wound care
Appropriate wound care [insert hyperlink local BSN webpage] also has a decisive role to play in the prevention of sepsis, as any break in the skin can allow bacteria to enter and cause an infection. You should always monitor wounds for signs of infections and ensure they are appropriately cleansed between dressing changes. 
 
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Think. Act. Care.

‘Think. Act. Care.’ is a set of quick and daily hygiene steps designed to help prevent sepsis in health care. The intention is to help enforce consistent and rigorous hygiene measures that prevent infections and sepsis among the patients you care for.
 
Think: Before engaging in your usual routine, make sure you pause and remember the preventive hygiene guidelines, such as WHO’s 5 moments of hand hygiene and post-operative wound care or your facility’s antimicrobial stewardship policy.
 
Act: Take the necessary steps to ensure hygiene compliance to reduce the risk of infection and sepsis, such as ensuring that your hands are sanitized before and after caring for a patient, closely monitoring your patient’s wounds for an infection or checking your patient’s vaccination history.
 
Care: After the appropriate intervention, get back to caring for your patients in a safe environment.
Spread the word with our infographics
Download the ‘Think. Act. Care.’ poster
References:

1 in 10

patients worldwide will acquire at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI)*

5 to 13%

The annual rate increase of sepsis in developed countries over the past decade**