The concept of handwashing was first begun in 1847 by a Hungarian obstetrician, Ignaz P. Semmelweis who performed the first experiment on hand hygiene and concluded that infections and maternal-deaths can be prevented by washing hands before delivery. Since then, hand hygiene has been considered as the most effective, less cost and essential preventive measure against transmission of bacteria and other nosocomial infections.
Poor hand hygiene is the major cause of nosocomial infections which is increasing the morbidity and mortality rate all over the world. The first step towards good hand hygiene and less infection is hand washing. Handwashing is the standardized inflectional control procedure that practiced in a hospital to avoid the transmission from patient to patient, patient to medical staff or from staff to patient. According to the NICE guidelines, handwashing should be done before and after leaving the workplace, after wearing gloves, after exposure with the body serum, after defecation or urination, after exposure with the patient and after handling any medical equipment.
In order to control infection, hand washing is also considered important because some antibiotic-resistant organisms can be removed by hand washing. Hence, it is essential in controlling infections not only within the hospital premises but in the pharmaceutical industries as well (Department of Health). According to a global consensus conference, 6 different species of Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms (AROs) are likely to cause infections which cost 1.3 billion dollars per year in the United States and it can be minimized by just washing hands.
Hand washing is the most effective method to prevent infections. It is estimated from different studies that about 50% of infections occur due to poor hand hygiene of health care providers (HCPs). Hence, it is a duty of medical and health care experts to aware the common people about the importance of handwashing.
Written by Maliha Hassan