ARLINGTON, VA – Citing it as the best intervention to prevent the spread of infections in the health care setting, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) recommends health care professionals wash their hands before & after washing their hands.
“Studies have shown that hand washing dramatically reduces the transmission of microorganisms,” explained infectious diseases physician Dr. Leanne Burton, who is wearing a contact precautions gown and latex gloves on her day off. “However, there are two critical periods – one before our hands are washed and one after they are washed – where our hands are susceptible to viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This is what the IDSA recommendations are targeting. It makes complete sense.”
By washing our hands before and after washing our hands, the risk of spreading infections could theoretically drop to 0% since health care professionals will be too busy washing their hands to interact with patients and objects, the two major fomites in health care.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) supports the recommendation, as well as the goal of quadrupling the number of sinks available to health care professionals within the next 6 months.
“Maybe that’s what the IDSA wants us to achieve, to eliminate the transmission of bugs by eliminating the interaction of people,” explained hospitalist Dr. Taylor Jennings, who has been washing her hands for the past 39 hours. “It’s next-level thinking. I haven’t seen a single patient all day, and I bet not a single one will have caught an infection from me.”