Monday, October 18, 2010
First, I'd Wash My Hands
As we're coming into cold and flu season, I figure it's my duty as a nurse to talk a little about the number one thing you can do help keep yourself from catching something - wash your hands.
The first thing we learned in nursing school was how to wash our hands. It's the best way to keep from transmitting germs from one place to another, like from a doorknob to your eyes, nose or mouth. It's the first thing doctors and nurses should do when they enter a patient's room, before they touch the patient. It's also the last thing doctors and nurses should do when they are done touching a patient and are leaving the patient's room. Frankly, anyone coming into or leaving a patient's room should thoroughly wash their hands. If you are ever a patient, don't hesitate to remind anyone and everyone to please wash their hands.
The title of this post comes from the statement we made as student nurses when we were being checked off on the various practical skills we had learned. Because our classrooms usually didn't have sinks, we'd always start off by saying, "First, I'd wash my hands" and then proceed with demonstrating the rest of the skill.
I actually learned the way the state of Florida wants healthcare workers to wash their hands when I became a Certified Nursing Assistant. It's pretty involved, but it's the right way to do it. Basically you wet your hands, add soap, work up a lather and scrub both tops and palms of hands, scrub each hand's fingernails on the opposite palm, individually scrub around the thumb with the opposite hand, and scrub your wrists up to the width of your hand. Rinse your hands and wrists thoroughly. It should take 20 seconds or the length of time it takes you to sing your ABCs. Then you dry with a paper towel, use the paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door (if you're in a public restroom). The thing to remember is that your hands are only as clean as the last thing they touched. Period.