Hand washing: PICU policy

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Hand hygiene policy.


Paediatric Critical Care staff.


This Guideline is applicable to ALL staff (clinical and non-clinical) working for GG&C in any setting where children are cared for. Knowledge and understanding of the principles of hand hygiene outlined in this document are mandatory.

Hand hygiene is the single most important factor for the prevention of nosocomial infection and must become second nature.

  • Once you handle a child you must assume your hands to be contaminated.

  • Equipment and objects surrounding the child are also an important source of infection if touched.
What should I do when entering the unit at the start of my shift or after a break from the unit?

Ensure that you -

  • Remove watches and all jewellery (excluding a plain wedding band).

  • Remove false nails and nail varnish.

  • Cover open wounds on your hands.

  • Roll up your sleeves if they are covering your forearms.
Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water
  • Wet hands first, wash all parts of hands, at least to mid-forearm, for a minimum 15 seconds.

  • Guidelines for appropriate washing are on the next page.

  • Reminders for hand washing are found above each sink.

  • Dry with paper towels, for sterile procedure use sterile towel from dressing pack.

  • Take care not to re-contaminate hands on sinks, taps or waste disposal bins (turn off taps with elbows and open bins with foot pedal).
What should I do during my shift?

Hand hygiene must be practised -

  • Before and after patient contact.

  • When moving between bedspaces including touching computers and equipment this can be with alcohol gel, unless hands are visibly soiled when soap and water must be used.

  • If gloves are worn - wash you hands on removing gloves. Gloves protect you not the patient.

  • When leaving a cubicle hands must be washed with soap and water. Alcohol gel is not acceptable.


Summary points

• Always perform a full hand wash on entering the unit.

• Perform hand hygiene with gel or a hand wash between children 
   and moving between bedspaces.

• Perform a soap and water hand wash between cubicles.


Editorial Information

Last reviewed: 01 October 2012

Next review: 01 October 2012

Author(s): Julie Richardson

Co-Author(s): Pamela Joannidis