A nurse may enter a room six times during a shift for med pass, accuchecks, vitals, meals, incontinent care and a dressing change. It would require the nurse to wash her hands upon entering and exiting the room each time. The procedure should take about 90 seconds to complete as touted by most in-service teaching. That would be a grand total of 18 minutes per shift for one patient. It seems rather innocent until you crunch the numbers.
The devil is in the details. No matter what you do you are causing risk and harm to yourself as well. If you were to wash your hands over 400 times during an eight hours shift, not only would your hands be extremely raw but those very abrasions you would obtain from such frequent hand washing with cheap caustic soap and rough paper towels will increase your chance of infection getting into your body.
However if you do not wash your hands as required you risk cross contamination to your patients, and possible loss of employment.
Here is how it all works out.
You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but you need to be aware it doesn’t kill C. difficile. This product is less drying and hand washing. However, you can’t use this all the time. There needs to be a balance.
The most important thing to remember is to clean your hands. The goal is 40 to 60 seconds with soap and water, 20 to 30 seconds with hand sanitizer.