Hand Hygiene Practices in Healthcare Settings

Hands are most at risk for contamination with microorganisms when health care is provided. Adherence to hand hygiene is the single most important practice for preventing healthcare-associated infections. The Hand Hygiene Practices in Healthcare Settings guideline provides a framework for developing, implementing and evaluating hand hygiene policies, programs and procedures in all settings where health care is provided.

This guideline identifies effective infection prevention and control measures related to hand hygiene and emphasizes the organizational role for an effective hand hygiene program. It is intended to assist healthcare organizations, infection prevention and control professionals and other healthcare providers responsible for developing policies and procedures related to hand hygiene in all healthcare settings.

You'll find information on:

  • the role hands play in spreading infection,
  • the relationship between hand hygiene and healthcare-associated infections,
  • the use of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) at the point-of-care as the preferred method of hand hygiene, with certain exceptions,
  • the impact of improved hand hygiene practices,
  • how to implement, monitor, and improve adherence to hygiene programs,
  • effective hand hygiene products, and
  • evidence-based practices.

The full version of this document Hand Hygiene Practices in Healthcare Settings (2012) is available on the Government of Canada publications website.

Redaction Statement: n-propanol has been removed from this document. Acceptable ingredients for use in hand sanitizers are detailed in the Antiseptic Skin Cleansers (Personal Domestic Use) monograph. For more information, please consult the Non-prescription and Natural Health Products website: Licensing approach to produce and distribute alcohol-based hand sanitizers: guidance document.

For further information please contact:

Centre for Communicable Diseases and Infection Control
Public Health Agency of Canada

Page details

Date modified: