Did You Clean Your Hands?

Hand transmission of microbes (bugs) by health care workers is a primary cause of infections in healthcare settings. Compliance with effective handwashing and hand sanitization regimens can help prevent such infections.  Many studies have shown that alcohol gel sanitizers are as effective and sometimes more effective than soap and water at killing bacteria and viruses that hang out on people’s hands and healthcare workers are now being advised to use alcohol gels instead of soap and water to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

When a person washes their hands they are supposed to do it for at least twenty seconds and the rubbing of the soap and the water should be vigorous.  Such a proper washing uses (or wastes?) more than a quart of water.  And what about the paper towels that are wasted as well?  If the use of alcohol gels is as or more effective than soap and water then what are we doing with these handwashing rituals we engage in a few or more times a day?  This is a question that has few solid answers so far, but needs to be debated.  Water is a precious resource and we shouldn’t be playing games with it.  Let’s figure this thing out together.

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