CNA Skill: Hand Washing Procedure

Hand Washing is a critical component of infection control for nursing assistants and other healthcare professionals.  Every surface that you touch has microorganisms which can contain harmful germs and bacteria.  You can easily spread germs and infection from your hands if you do not practice proper hand washing techniques.  Many of the patients you work with on a daily basis will have a weakened immune system.   You can unintentionally spread germs and illness to your patients if you do not wash your hands well using warm water, antimicrobial soap and a friction action as you wash your hands thoroughly.  Here are some steps to help ensure that you are washing your hands well to eliminate the spread of germs.

  • Always remove any rings on your hands and bracelets on your wrist before you start to wash your hands.
  • Your hands should always be held lower than your elbow.  Otherwise, germs can move up your arm rather than being washed away.
  • Let the water run in the faucet until it turns warm.  Run water on your hands and wrist to make them wet.  Then place a small amount of soap on your hand.
  • You will work the soap into a good lather.  Do this for 30 seconds or more.  Always apply firm friction as you lather the soap under your fingernails, between each finger and even up your wrist.
  • You should wash your hands for one minute or more if your hands have come in contact with bodily fluids.
  • Rinse your hands well (still using warm water) after you finish washing them with soap.  Make certain to dry your hands well.
  • If your hands touch the sink at any time while washing, you should begin the process again to prevent re-contamination to your hands.

Your hands will now be clean. To prevent re-infection with germs, use a section of the paper towel that you used to dry your hands to turn off the faucet.  You can also use a paper towel to open the bathroom door so that your hands will not be coming in contact with microorganisms again.

Nurse aides should always wash their hands after they use the rest room, after sneezing and before and after eating.  They should also wash their hands before and after performing any patient procedures.  Nursing assistants should always wash their hands before and after interacting with any patients.

A nurse aide should pay careful attention to make certain they wash their hands after coming in contact with bodily fluids, wounds or soiled linen.  It is important for a nursing assistant to wash their hands even if they were wearing gloves at the time.

Washing hands frequently and properly can help to prevent the spread of germs and infection.  Patients and staff alike are likely to remain healthier if everyone uses proper hand washing techniques.

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