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Stop spread of germs, wash hands often

Stop by the Health 1st Wellness Wednesday table between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Oct. 22 in the Children’s Hospital lobby to take the hand hygiene quiz and learn about hand hygiene.

by Cynthia C. Fitzgerald, R.N. III
Ambulatory Care/ Pain Management Clinic
Controlling the spread of germs rests in each of our hands, which should be washed and sanitized often.

In fact, hand washing with good old soap and water, though surgical soap is best, is the very best way to prevent infection and stop the spread of germs.
In recognition of Infection Control Week, Oct. 19-25, we are reminding everyone that infection control is everyone’s responsibility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, each year, healthcare-associated infections account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths in U.S. hospitals.
As a health care professional, you can utilize your professional knowledge, skill and judgment to assess potential routes of transmission, assess risk, and apply guidelines to educate others about infection control. The 2009 National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG) and Elements of Performance (EP) include a focus on infection control. Goal 13 focuses on encouraging patients’ active involvement in their own care as a patient safety strategy. Added to this goal are new Elements of Performance concerning educating the patient about hand hygiene practices, respiratory hygiene practices, and contact precautions. Also, surgical patients should be educated about the methods the facility employs to prevent adverse events during surgery, including the prevention of surgical infections.

In general, evidence supports the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels to promote hand hygiene. (Soap and water is more effective in killing some germs commonly found in clinical settings.)
Properly using and applying the gel is important, and should address the areas of the fingertips, fingernails and commonly missed areas like the thumb and inter-digital spaces of the hand (where high counts of microorganisms are often found).
Recommended steps for hand gel use are:
Put gel in the palm of one hand
Dip the fingertips of the opposite hand into the pools before spreading the gel
Repeat with the other hand and fingertips
For education to be effective, nursing advocates must play a key role. Strategies to effect change need to integrate current infection control knowledge with practice and be addressed at every level.
Health 1st events

  • Worksite Screenings-Subscribers of the State Health Plan, BlueChoice/Companion, Cigna, and MUSC Options can receive a preventive health screening on campus. The screening includes height, weight, blood pressure, and blood will be drawn for a blood chemistry profile, hemogram, and blood lipid profile. In most health care settings this screening is valued at $200 but will be available to MUSC employees for $15. Screenings are offered monthly, and the next one will be Oct. 23 at the Education Center/Library Building.
  • La Leche League—This is a nonprofit, volunteer mother-to-mother support organization that provides support, education, information, and encouragement for breastfeeding moms and expecting moms. La Leche League classes are held on campus every fourth Wednesday of the month. The next class will be held Oct. 22 in Room 501, Children’s Hospital.
For new classes, screenings and information, visit; or to suggest classes to offer e-mail To register for the classes/screenings, call Beka Hardin at 792-9959.


Friday, Oct. 17, 2008

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.