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Hand washing is key to preventing spread of germs

handwash“It‘s a basic, low-tech thing that has high impact,” Waleed Javaid MD says of hand washing.

Javaid is a hospital epidemiologist and Upstate University Hospital‘s director of infection control. With this year‘s flu season already under way, he reminds us that keeping hands clean helps prevent illness and infection from spreading. That‘s true in the hospital as well as in our homes, schools and workplaces.

At Upstate, Javaid compiles a monthly report to administrators about hand hygiene among staff, which is monitored by a mystery staff person who observes a variety of staff throughout the hospital. This person is trained to track not just whether people wash their hands, but whether they wash them adequately.

In addition, the hospital‘s annual training requirements include hand hygiene. Caregivers must wash hands prior to any patient contact, regardless of whether they put on gloves, Javaid says.

Hospital visitors, too, are encouraged to wash their hands. This helps protect their loved one – but it also goes a long way toward keeping visitors healthy.