How should surgical hand washing be?

Surgical handwashing requires a series of well-defined steps to prevent any type of cross contamination in hospitals.

Surgical handwashing aims to eliminate as many pathogens present in hands and arms as possible before entering the operating room to avoid cross contamination.

Surgical handwashing, unlike conventional handwashing, is done with soapy compositions that contain iodinated povidone or chlorhexidine and is applied to hands thoroughly and forearms.

What is surgical hand washing?

Surgical handwashing is defined as an energetic rub of the hands and part of the arms with soapy solutions composed of iodinated povidone or chlorhexidine.

These compositions are especially effective in removing not only dirt, but also bacteria from the hands.

Mostly, the surgical handwashing technique is applied before entering the operating room in hospitals, veterinary clinics, etc. and at the exit of it.

This technique should not be confused with that of clinical hand washing, which is less intense and is performed before and after health care.

Objective of surgical handwashing

The main objective of surgical handwashing is to achieve a high degree of asepsis before and after surgery.

With this technique it is possible to rigorously eliminate possible remains that may remain in the hands or arms and thus avoid the dreaded nosocomial infections in hospitals.

Recall that the hands are one of the main transmitters of germs and, in case of not applying good hygiene, we put at risk the health of the patients and that of the professionals themselves.

Requirements prior to surgical handwashing

Before applying the technique of surgical handwashing, we must ensure that the technical healthcare staff meets the following requirements:

Nails should be short, clean and especially without enamel.

All jewelry must be removed from hands such as rings, bracelets or watches.

In case of injuries or cuts, the personnel must refrain from the participation of invasive interventions until their cure.

Dispense with brushes for washing hands or nails.

Surgical Hand Washing Procedure

  1. Hands must be completely clean (free of enamels and the presence of jewelry).
  2. Moisten hands and forearms with warm water
  3. Clean the nails with the help of a spatula indicated for this purpose.
  4. Apply the antiseptic on hands and forearms and rub in circular movements covering the spaces between the fingers.
  5. Washing will always be from the hands to the forearms; never the other way around The process should take 4 minutes.
  6. Rinse arms separately.
  7. Dry hands and arms with a sterile towel or disposable paper
  8. After surgical hand washing, the arms should remain above the waist, avoiding touching anything until the gloves are placed.It is important that every time the tap is opened or closed, this action is performed with the elbow to avoid contaminating the hands and forearms.
    In the case that skin conditioners are used, as is the case with Hand Medic, these are only allowed after the departure from the operating room, never before entry.