to main content Prevent Infections and Ask Caregivers to Wash Their Hands | The Joint Commission


50% of providers fail to perform hand hygiene. Help stop the spread of infections. Ask caregivers to wash their hands before touching you. If you see a health care provider reaching for you without having washed, ask them to do so. Gentle, but assertive reminders can be lifesaving.

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How Can We Prevent Infections?

  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20-30 seconds
  • Ask providers and caregivers to use alcohol-based hand rub or wash their hands with soap and water for 20-30 seconds
  • Don’t ask for antibiotics for viral infections or when not needed
  • If prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take the full course
  • Remove devices (catheters, lines, drains, etc.) as quickly as possible (can lower risk of infection if no longer medically needed)
  • Ask questions about/confirm medication instructions

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Did You Know Only 5% of People Wash Their Hands Correctly?

  • Always wash hands with soap and water or sanitize hands with alcohol-based hand rub (if soap and water are not available).
  • Make sure you’re washing your hands for 20 seconds by singing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Learn more about handwashing at home, at play and out and about here.
  • The following resources are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

A Helpful Reminder

Don’t let anyone touch you until you’ve seen them:

  • Wash their hands
  • Wash before putting gloves on
  • Use instruments that are opened from sterilized packaging; or
  • Wipe and sanitize instruments that will touch you

So, the next time you suspect a health-care worker may have skipped the soap or hand sanitizer, don’t hold back. Everyone benefits when fewer germs are spread around.

Resources and Tools: