Hand hygiene and preventing infections

The best way to help prevent infection during your stay is to wash your hands often and well. This also includes anyone who comes to visit you including family and friends, nurses and doctors. It is ok to ask health care workers to wash their hands before providing your care. ·

Use soap and water or alcohol based hand rub to keep your hands clean. ·

  • Always clean your hands and ask others to clean their hands:
    • when entering and leaving your hospital room
    • before and after eating, touching food
    • after using the bathroom after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose

Other ways to help prevent infections during your stay:

  • Please do not touch or fiddle with your bandages, dressings or drips. This includes family and friends. 
  • Do not delay telling your nurse if your intravenous lines (drip), tubes ,drains or wounds become red, swollen or painful
  • Always ask staff if they have cleaned their hands – this is especially important before they touch your wound or intravenous drip. Our staff will not be offended if you ask
  • Ask your family, friends or carers not to visit if they are unwell.
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics to take home with you, it is very important to complete the course until finished.

Preventing infection from surgery – Safe Skin Program

Most patients who have surgery recover without complications, but sometimes patients can get infections.

To reduce the risk of infection after surgery have a bath or shower the night before and the morning of your surgery. Make sure you:

  • use a new bar or liquid antibacterial soap when you bath or shower
  • wet your body and wash with soap and a clean wash cloth
  • rinse well – it is important to get all the soap off your body
  • dry your skin well with a clean towel. Do not use lotions, creams or powders on your skin
  • dress in clean clothes.

Do not shave near where you will be having your surgery. Shaving can irritate the skin, which may lead to infections. If you are a man who shaves your face everyday, please ask your surgeon if it is ok to do so.

Preventing Surgical site Infection and Pre-operative washing

There are lots of germs on our skin and in our environment. Most of them cause no harm however, these germs can enter the body through the incision made by the surgeon.

Download a copy of our guide to preventing surgical site infection and pre-operative washing

Related links

We reduce the risks of a hospital stay with hand hygiene, preventing falls and blood clots, and medication safety. Read about keeping you safe in hospital.