Home / Patient Safety & Quality / Hand Washing

Hand Hygiene

A regional, quality-improvement collaborative involving hospital quality experts, student nurses, iPads and a focus on hand washing, is making significant improvement in compliance by health care professionals to follow hand hygiene protocols.

These improvements have a positive impact on health care costs, through reduced incidents of infections. More importantly, the hospitals’ work has improved the care provided to patients by creating a safer care environment.

OHA Central Ohio Quality Collaborative - Hand Hygiene & Scrub Up! Event

Effective hand-hygiene (hand washing) practice has long been recognized as the most important way to reduce the transmission of infections in health-care settings. Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is a very important step everyone can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many studies, however, have shown that adherence to hand-hygiene recommendations remains low and that improvement efforts frequently lack sustainability.

In an unprecedented and public event, OHA brought together 20 Central Ohio hospitals in a six-county area to simultaneously cease non-urgent operations for a 15-minute focus on eliminating preventable infections through better hand-hygiene culture on Dec. 5, 2011.

Central Ohio Hospital Quality Collaborative Report – Click Here
“Central Ohio Hospital Hand Hygiene Initiative: Reducing Infections, Improving Patient Care.”

Hand Washing Facts

  • Infectious diseases, many of which are spread by unclean hands, remain the leading cause of death and disease worldwide and the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Some viruses and bacteria can live from 20 minutes up to 2 hours or more on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks.
  • According to the CDC, failure to wash, or insufficiently washing hands, contributes to almost 50 percent of all food-borne illness outbreaks. Hands can also transfer germs from contaminated raw meat, eggs and poultry to other foods.
  • The most common surfaces with the most germs includes telephones, computer keyboards, copiers, door knobs, gas pumps, hand rails, and ATM machines

When to Wash Your Hands

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

The Proper Way to Wash Your Hands

  • Wet your hands with clean, warm running water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well. 
  • Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they do not eliminate all types of germs and are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.


Thanks to the following Central Ohio hospitals for their commitment to Scrub Up!

Berger Hospital
Fairfield Medical Center
Licking Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital of Union County
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Mount Carmel HealthSystem
  • Mount Carmel East Hospital
  • Mount Carmel New Albany Surgical Hospital
  • Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital
  • Mount Carmel West Hospital
  • Doctors Hospital
  • Dublin Methodist Hospital
  • Grady Memorial Hospital
  • Grant Medical Center
  • Marion General Hospital
  • Riverside Methodist Hospital
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  • James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute
  • University Hospital
  • University Hospital East
  • Ross Heart Hospital
  • OSU Harding Hospital
© 2019 The Ohio Hospital Association. All Rights Reserved.