We know washing our hands is the best way to prevent spreading germs, but a new study shows that one in ten people don’t wash their hands at all after using the bathroom. Only 5% do it right. It’s a big deal when you consider that half of the foodborne illness outbreaks happen because people either don’t wash hands or don’t do it right.
Chaparral High School students recently worked on a health project to promote the importance of hand washing by creating posters and health messaging for their classroom. The students worked with our staff and wrote the script, worked in front of and behind the camera, and on the audio recording and basic lighting to create the “High Five for Hand Washing” video. Special thanks to Marta Urbina, Chief for the Office for Children with Special Health Care Needs in the Bureau of Women’s and Children’s Health and Dallas Teat, Video Production Specialist, for hard work on this project.
Incorrect or missing hand washing is a problem even in hospitals. It has major consequences. Healthcare workers can quickly become a vector for spreading infection.
There are many challenges to implementing proper hand washing in the hospital setting:
1. Lack of time (workers have to go in and out of rooms all day and stopping to wash properly, adds up to a lot of time)
2. Lack of awareness (many don’t realize the importance of this)
3. Lack of easy to access resources (wash stations may be hard to find)
4. Skin drying (from repeated hand washing)
5. Old habits die hard
It took someone with a healthy mind to come up with effective solutions. But the http://healthcare.utah.edu/hospital/ was successful in resolving this problem when I was employed there. Here is what they did:
1. Utilized hand sanitizers at every patient’s door (helped with lack of time and resource problems)
2. Instituted an education program.
3. Used a sanitizer with lotion (helped with dry skin)
4. Instituted a hidden reviewer (who secretly watched staff in different floors and gave an overall grade as feedback to remedy the “old habits die hard” problem)
Step 4 created the most change :).