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1-Minute Clinicals: You’ve Been Surrounded—Wash Those Hands!

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By Robin Varela, RN, BSN, contributor

With health care leaders from the World Health Organization and the Joint Commission to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizing the importance of proper hand hygiene, here’s one more reason why you should wash your hands before and after visiting each and every patient.

According to the CDC, health care-associated pathogens can be recovered not only from infected or draining wounds, but also from frequently colonized areas of normal, intact patient skin. Organisms such as S. aureus, Proteus mirabilis, Klebsiella and Acinetobacter can be shed daily on to patient gowns, bed linen, bedside furniture and other objects in the patient’s immediate environment. Persons with diabetes, patients undergoing dialysis for chronic renal failure and those with chronic dermatitis are very likely to have areas of intact skin that are colonized with S. aureus.

For the CDC’s complete hand hygiene guide for health care workers, visit the CDC Web site.

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