Why Proper Skin Care Must Be Part of the Fight Against HAIs

By Martie L. MooreClinical SolutionsLeave a Comment

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The organizations who win the fight against hospital-acquired infections are the ones who attack the problem from all angles. They’re the ones willing to piece together the complex puzzle that connects infection prevention and hand hygiene compliance to its missing link – caregivers’ skin.

How do we know this? A look at the latest statistics on infection prevention and hand hygiene suggest hospital acquired infections are down while hand hygiene compliance is still historically low. Is it possible that the poor condition of nurses’ hands may be contributing to low hand hygiene compliance? Let’s take a closer look.

The good news: According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2011 to 2013, rates for CLABSI and SSI have declined significantly. Some progress was shown in reducing hospital-onset MRSA bacteremia and hospital-onset C. difficile infections as well.

The reality: While a huge improvement, the reductions did not meet 2013 goals. The CDC wants organizations to do more to bring down the numbers. As we know, HAIs are very common, yet very preventable. At the same time, hand hygiene compliance is still historically low at 39 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

The missing piece: Lacking from these latest accomplishments are improvements to the hands of healthcare workers. Clinicians rely on their hands first and foremost to provide the best patient care. But a new study from the University of Manchester reveals healthcare workers following hand hygiene protocols are 4.5 times more likely to suffer from irritant contact dermatitis. According to the report, previous studies have found that “infections can remain present for longer on damaged and broken skin and having irritated skin can put people off washing their hands.”

Organizations are making strides, but it appears to be at the expense of nurses’ hands. So what do facilities need to do to piece together the puzzle? Nurses need guidance and resources from their organizations on how to properly care for their hands. And it’s time for facilities to consider new solutions to an age-old complaint.

One solution for dry, irritated skin: the Restore nitrile glove , a first-of-its kind exam glove from Medline that’s coated with colloidal oatmeal. The layer of colloidal oatmeal between the skin and the glove helps maintain the skin’s moisture to help relieve itchy, dry skin.  Pilot tested among nearly 100 nurses across the U.S., results have been powerful – 78 percent said their hands felt soft at work after wearing Restore nitrile gloves for 10 days. Prior to the trial, only 1 percent had said their hands felt soft at work.

Facility wide change can be daunting. But challenging one’s organization to correct the problem is a first step. Take a simple step by trying the Restore glove 10-day challenge at your facility. Click here for details.

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If you’re still questioning why proper hand care is part of the fight against HAIs, here is some final food for thought:

  • Nurses need the right tools to do their jobs.
  • A number of skin studies have examined how clinician hands compare to those who don’t participate in frequent hand washing and conclude that healthcare workers are vulnerable to dry skin more than any other group of professionals.
  • Infection prevention is not yet where it needs to be from a greater public health standpoint.
  • Discomfort caused by dry skin may discourage caregivers from practicing proper hand hygiene, putting themselves and their patients at risk.
  • After 100 nurses across the U.S. tried the Restore nitrile glove for 10 days, 82 percent were content with the condition of their hands at work after wearing the gloves. Prior to the challenge, only 4 percent were content with the condition of their hands at work.
  • The constant hand washing, scrubbing and sanitizing of hand hygiene compliance is here to stay.
About the Author
Martie L. Moore

Martie L. Moore

Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ, is the chief nursing officer at Medline. As CNO, Moore develops forward-thinking, solution-driven clinical programs, as well as new products and educational services. Prior to joining Medline, Martie was the chief nursing officer at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore. Under her leadership, Providence St. Vincent earned a third and fourth designation for Magnet.


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