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Hand Washing

One of the key preventative strategies for reducing the risk and spread of MRSA and other hospital acquired infections.

Practitioners should review their habit of hand washing between cases and after handling the patient, especially if a mouth or wound examination. Whilst usually very good at hand washing between surgical cases, there is often a difficulty for doing so in outpatient consultations. These difficulties may be due to easy access to a sink or time constraints for a busy clinic.

The habit should become as routine as cleaning the consulting table between cases. The technique of hand washing is also important. It is now known that simple hand washing will not eliminate all contamination. The same is true for alcohol based rubs. As for sterile surgery, only a full surgical scrub and additional glove protection is truly protective.

However on a practical level, the use of antibacterial soaps and/or alcohol rubs will reduce the patient to patient risk.


Practitioners may consider the routine use of disposable gloves but this needs to be balanced against client perceptions. Until routine use becomes common place, the use of gloves without explanation may give an adverse response from the client.

Skin care is important when using regular hand hygiene. The soaps and rubs are very aggressive to the natural skin oils and may lead to chapping and skin reactions. These lesions will increase the risk of bacterial skin carriage.

Use of hand moisturisers should be routine. Monitoring of practitioners hand skin health is important and should a reaction or severe chapping occur, the use of gloves may be preferable to repeat hand washing.

For more information see our veterinary nurse website – www.veterinarynursetrainingonline.org

My practice authors Mike Jessop and Pam Mosedale

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