Hand Hygiene

What is hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene refers to washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) to clean your hands.

Improving hand hygiene compliance is an organizational priority in Eastern Health’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2020.

Quick facts

  • Did you know that using good hand hygiene is the easiest and most effective way to prevent health-care associated infections and the transmission of organisms and disease?
  • Germs live on your hands or on objects. You can spread germs and infections when you have not washed your hands.
  • Washing hands helps to physically remove the germs by friction, and then rinse them down the drain.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHRs) kill 99.99 per cent of most common germs that may cause illness.

When should you wash your hands?

  • When hands are visibly dirty
  • Before you eat
  • Before you prepare food items
  • After touching raw meats like chicken or beef
  • After contact with any body fluids like blood, urine or vomit
  • After changing infant or adult diapers
  • After touching animals and pets
  • After using the washroom
  • After blowing your nose
  • After coughing/sneezing into your hands

Education and training

There are many posters and pamphlets available as visual reminders of the importance of hand hygiene. We also offer continuous education to staff through general orientation and continuing education.

Alcohol-Based Hand Rub (ABHR)

Alcohol-based hand rub, or sanitizer, is a hand disinfectant that can be used for routine cleaning of hands when they are not visibly soiled.

Hand hygiene and health care

Hand hygiene is especially important in a health-care setting

  • before and after initial contact with a patient/client or their environment;
  • before performing aseptic procedures, for example, inserting an I.V. or changing a dressing;
  • after exposure risk to bodily fluids;
  • when entering and leaving a room;
  • before touching surfaces or providing care;
  • when providing care to more than one patient/client; and
  • after removing gloves.


The Infection Prevention and Control Program (IPAC) has a Hand Hygiene Strategy and Action Plan that aims to create a culture where hand hygiene compliance becomes a priority.

The team continually educates and assesses availability and placement of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) product to make sure it is readily available for staff, patients, families, residents and visitors in all Eastern Health facilities.

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Last updated: 2021-06-22