Good food guide

NICE highlights how hand washing can save lives

11:00pm Wednesday 16th April 2014 content supplied byNHS Choices


What are the dangers of not washing hands?

Bugs (microbes) such as bacteria and viruses can easily be spread by touch. They may be picked up from contaminated surfaces, objects or people, then passed on to others. 

Effective hand decontamination - either by washing with soap and water or with an alcohol-based handrub - is recognised as crucial in the reducing avoidable infection.


What hygiene procedures should visitors to hospitals follow?

When visiting someone in hospital, always clean your hands using soap and water or alcohol handrubs. Do this when you enter or leave a patient's room or other areas of the hospital. Effective hand decontamination relies on an effective technique, which includes:

  • wetting hands with warm water
  • applying an adequate amount of (preferably liquid) soap
  • rubbing this thoroughly onto all hand surfaces (for at least 10 to 15 seconds)
  • rinsing thoroughly
  • drying thoroughly, preferably with disposable paper towel
  • taps should be then turned off with the paper towel to avoid recontaminating the hands

Alcohol handrub can only be used if hands are free from soling. The handrub needs to be thoroughly rubbed into all hand surfaces until hands are completely dry.

If you are concerned about the hand hygiene of doctors, nurses or anyone else who comes into contact with the patient you are visiting, you are encouraged to ask them whether they have cleaned their hands.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter. Join the Healthy Evidence forum.


"Doctors and nurses should do more to stop hospital patients developing infections, an NHS watchdog says," BBC News reports. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has highlighted how basic hygiene protocols.

Links to Science

Hospital infection rates must come down, says watchdog. BBC News, April 17 2014

One in 16 pick up a bug in FILTHY hospitals: NICE blames staff hygiene and dirty equipment for thousands of deaths. Mail Online, April 17 2014

Don't forget to wash your hands, nurses told. The Daily Telegraph, April 17 2014

One in 16 patients in NHS hospitals picks up infection, warns watchdog. The Guardian, April 17 2014

Wash your hands to cut infections, nurses told. The Times, April 17 2014

1 in 16 NHS patients pick up infections. ITV News, April 17 2014

Medics told by watchdog to wash hands often to stop spread of infection. Daily Express, April 17 2014

Useful Links

Further Readings

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.�Doctors and nurses must redouble hygiene efforts to bring down 'unacceptable and avoidable' infection rates (Press Release). April 2014

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