Can I ask the staff to wash their hands before treating me in the ICU?

Yes, you can and should ask all persons caring for you to wash their hands. Hand-washing is an easy way to prevent infection. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. However, it is important to remember that Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty. While the hands will never be germ free, hand-washing is the best defense to prevent the spread of germs that can lead to infection.
Julia Vicente, MSN
Critical Care Nursing
Absolutely! Many hospitals have campaigns and posted slogans that encourage family members and patients to ask about handwashing. Even though I might wash my hands at the station or outside a room I like the families to see that I have washed my hands. Yes, you can always ask about how handwashing prevents infection to start the conversation or just come right out and ask!
Deb Cordes
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to ask all staff including your nurse and doctor to wash their hands. It is also advisable to ask family members to wash their hands if they are going to be touching you. Washing hands is an excellent way to prevent the spread of infection.

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