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Point of care



Q. What does ‘point of care alcohol handrub’ mean in practice?

A. Hand disinfectants such as alcohol-based handrubs are most effective when they are made available where busy staff can clean their hands without leaving the patient. Point of care alcohol handrub can mean locating the dispensers at each bedside or by the examination couch in a treatment room. Where this is not possible (for example, due to the risk associated with its placement) staff can be issued with personal dispensers which can be carried in the pocket or clipped onto clothing.  For more information on placement, please read the Clean hands save lives Alert.



Q. Should alcohol handrubs be at entrances to different areas for all to use?

A. The objective of the cleanyourhands campaign is to get staff to clean their hands at the point of care as this is where it will be most effective in preventing infection. Some organisations have chosen to site alcohol handrub dispensers at the entrances to wards and buildings where they can be used by everyone as they enter and leave. These may help to limit microorganisms being brought in from outside and will often help to raise awareness of hand hygiene in general, but as they are not normally accessible from the point of care they are of limited use to staff.



Q. What are the correct moments for staff to perform hand hygiene?

A. There are Five Moments for staff to perform hand hygiene. This approach was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). This approach to hand hygiene is based on the evidence contained in the WHO’s guidelines on hand hygiene. This evidence demonstrates that if staff comply with hand hygiene at these key moments then the chain of transmission of microorganisms can be successfully broken. The Five Moments for hand hygiene are:

  1. Before patient contact
  2. Before a clean/aseptic procedure
  3. After body fluid exposure risk
  4. After patient contact
  5. After contact with patient surroundings



Q. Do I need to put alcohol handrub near to sinks?

No. In fact doing this encourages poor practice, for example using alcohol handrub when soap and water handwashing is required. Also there is a risk, as the dispenser is located at a sink, that it will be used for handwashing. This may lead to non-compliance that goes unnoticed. We recommend that you avoid placing alcohol handrub dispensers near sinks.