National Nurses Week and Proper Hygiene in Healthcare

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Friday May 6th to Thursday May 12th marks National Nurses Week. May 8, 1998 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, and remains a reminder of that since.

Did you know this was first proposed by Dorothy Sutherland to the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1953? Unfortunately, the proposal didn’t happen as hoped for.

“International Nurses Day” finally became an occasion on May 12, 1974. And eventually, but only with a fair amount of struggle, “National Nurses Week” became a reality.

So what better time to discuss proper hygiene in healthcare? After all, it could prevent many serious illnesses, and even save many lives.

As obsessive, and advanced, as we are with healthcare in the United States, we still have some work to do in terms of hygiene. Check out some of the leading areas that need to be addressed:

  1. Low Hand Hygiene Still Plagues the Healthcare Industry

In a super high-tech industry, one of the main concerns is amazingly low-tech. This CDC report says only about 40% of healthcare professionals use proper handwashing technique.

We’ve talked about handwashing technique here before. So we won’t go through the whole process again. But hopefully you can now see its importance. For now, the CDC has an excellent guide on proper hand hygiene in your healthcare workplace.

  1. Poor Dental Hygiene and Pneumonia in Nursing Homes

Unfortunately, dental care often falls by the wayside in nursing homes. Why? According to this article, it’s one of the toughest tasks for CNAs to do. Patients with dementia and lowering mental awareness resist. And it’s easier to take care of all the other tasks first – changing adult diapers, bathing, or turning a resident every few hours.

Overwhelmed CNAs let dental hygiene slip to the bottom of the list. And often, it doesn’t get taken care of at all.

Unfortunately, poor dental hygiene can lead to pneumonia, a leading killer of nursing home residents.

  1. Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) Cause More Deaths than Breast Cancer and AIDs Combined

The article that reports this statistic quoted that stat from an issue of Critical Care Medicine. How does this get transmitted from one patient to another?

The germs take up residence on bed rails, faucet handles, and table tops. They live weeks before dying naturally. If you notice, those are all places many people commonly touch.

And it may be influenced by the lack of hand hygiene.

Do nurses do a good and noble job? You bet. They help improve and save millions of lives per year. At the same time, every healthcare organization has serious strides to make to improve medical outcomes even further.