Paramedics Course – Handwashing

Paramedics Course – Handwashing

Micro Lecture by the Australian Paramedical College


In this micro-lecture, we discuss handwashing; and hand decontamination. Enrolled students have unlimited access to a rich library of learning materials such as this.

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Hey, guys. In today’s microlecture, we’re going to talk about hand decontamination. Now, it’s not as boring as you might think especially given that most paramedics don’t fully appreciate the damage that they are doing and the harm that they are causing their patients by not having a good understanding of hand decontamination processes and not using the right decontamination agent at the right time. Don’t get me started on the use of non-sterile gloves. That’s what we’re going to talk about across the next three minutes. Now, you probably will have read what work health and safety practices, hand decontamination, use the alcohol wipes and the alcohol gels.

That’s great, but something that we are historically really bad at is actually decontaminating our hands properly at the right time, but also using non-sterile gloves terribly. Let’s talk about these things. Now, the decontamination process, you can’t see the bacteria on my hands, but yet we go from patient to patient to patient, we’re shaking their hands and we’re touching their door handles and leaving the previous patient’s bacteria in there. When you’re decontaminating your hands, number one, make sure you’re doing it on at least five occasions for every patient. That’s called the five moments to hand hygiene.

When you’re actually doing a decontamination using the gels, make sure you get your thumbs, make sure you clean in the center here using these two parts of your fingers, in between each finger like this, on the palm of the hands. Don’t wear watches, anything below the elbows. We’re not having anything on there, so no watches, no rings, no nothing because bacteria loves behind those places. Then of course, on the top of the hands, in between, so basically everywhere. We just do it really, really badly. Then when we talk about using the gloves, the World Health Organization recommends from 2009 onwards that we only use non-sterile gloves. They’re the dirty gloves that are already open in the back of an ambulance.

They’re already exposed to bacteria. You only put them on if, number one, you’re going to expose yourself to patient’s body fluids. Number two, they are suspected or known infectious. Number three, you’re likely to do some kind of invasive technique. That’s what the World Health Organization’s been advocating since 2009. Yet here we are today, 2018 going onto ’19, and there’s still a lot of controversy over when and where and how to use gloves because we assume that all patients are known infectious until proven otherwise. Of course, we guess we do have to exercise caution. If you’ve got something in environment that suggests using by gloves, by all means, put them on.

But otherwise, all you’re doing is allowing bacteria to grow underneath the glove. Number two, the bacteria grows on top of the glove so you’re not actually protecting anybody. What we really need to do is to decontaminate our hands in the right method using the right fluids, the right decontamination agent and at the right time. Hope you’ve enjoyed this session.


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