World Hand Hygiene Day 2018 – SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands

Each year the World Health Organisation (WHO) asks Healthcare Professionals to support its ongoing global hand hygiene campaign SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands.

This year the theme for World Hand Hygiene Day is;

It’s in your hands – prevent sepsis in health care

Sepsis is estimated to affect more than 30 million patients every year worldwide, potentially leading to 6 million deaths2, which are most likely in low- and middle-income countries.

Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI), are important risk factors for developing sepsis but effective hand hygiene can prevent them. On World Hand Hygiene Day (5 May), the focus for all Healthcare Professionals (HCP) should be on the prevention of sepsis in healthcare.

Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection.1 If not recognized early and managed promptly, it can lead to septic shock, multiple organ failure and death. Early diagnosis and timely and appropriate clinical management of sepsis, such as optimal antimicrobial use and fluid resuscitation, are crucial to increase the likelihood of survival.

Optimal antimicrobial use is an interesting debate, as the WHO has widely promoted the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, since its inception in 2005. Huge advances in the development and distribution of novel alcohol-free antimicrobial technologies which offer superior efficacy and are now readily available to HCPs and patients, providing greater protection against the harmful microbes which could lead to infection and sepsis.  The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) framework and the Infection Prevention Society (IPS) accept the efficacy of alcohol-free hand sanitisers, which is now gaining traction across NHS Trusts and healthcare facilities.  This level of trust clearly signals an important step forward in terms of validating its performance in use and acknowledges a genuine need for an alternative to alcohol-based products.

It is notably recognised that hand hygiene compliance is a hugely important issue for Healthcare Professionals, whom are likely to use a hand sanitiser upwards of 30 times a day.  The benefits of introducing an alcohol-free hand sanitiser offers a genuine advantage, in that they are arguably kinder on the skin than alcohol products.  Leading products offer dermatologically tested solutions to ensure that the skin’s natural pH balance is maintained.  Proven not to dry the hands even with repeated use.

It is important to note that beyond these topical benefits, alcohol-free hand sanitisers also help minimise risks associated with public access.  As non-toxic solutions, they are non-flammable and pose little danger if ingested, compared to alcohol-based sanitisers, allowing safe use in areas open to the vulnerable or dependent patients, including children.

Byotrol’s INVIRTU™ Alcohol-free Hand Foam Sanitiser is not only clinically proven to kill 99.99% of common germs and viruses, including influenza A, MRSA, E. coli and rotavirus, it also provides prolonged protection between hand washes.  This is because, unlike its alcohol-based counterparts whereby the antimicrobial solution quickly evaporates once applied, its ability to kill bacteria continues when dried on the hands offers an extended and powerful defence to continue to protect the user from HAIs including multi drug-resistant organisms.

As the annual World Hand Hygiene Day approaches, take a moment to consider if it is time for a change.  The impact of improved hand hygiene compliance in healthcare environments can dramatically help to reduce infection.  If the choice of hand sanitiser on offer is trusted, liked and efficacious – does it matter if it is alcohol or alcohol-free? It just might be time to question your current hospital behaviour and switch your hand sanitiser for the better.

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