Clean Hands Save Lives!

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INTRODUCTION.  This lesson incorporates the historical aspects, theory behind and significant impact that regular and proper handwashing has in the healthcare setting. It intends to instill in the minds of students who are in the nursing and allied health programs that hand-washing truly saves lives! This lesson will form part of their practical training in laboratory safety and aseptic techniques in a Basic Microbiology Course.


(1) PRE-CLASS ASSIGNMENTS. Before coming to class, all students will be required to read about the life and accomplishments of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss, whom we attribute to be the initiator of the “hand-washing” protocols we follow in clinical practice today. A link is provided here and contains a detailed discussion about Dr. Semmelweiss.

To emphasize the importance and impact that hand-washing has among healthcare professionals; students are required to read about Nosocomial Infections (i.e., Hospital Acquired Infections). This is one of the biggest healthcare problems in the US today. Many lives are lost and billions of dollars are spent every year in this country because of HAI (Hospital Acquired Infections). Here is a discussion on Nosocomial Infections.

[This pre-class assignment will be sent via e-mail through Black Board 1 week before class-time].

(2) ENTRY PASS. As a form of Entry Pass into the class, each student will bring an Index Card with his/her full name on one side and a question with an answer on the other side of the card. The question has some relevance on the facts, concepts, ideas learned from the two readings above. At the end of the class, Cold Calling or Kooshing Technique will be done using the questions prepared by each student. The professor will reward students who participate or answer the questions correctly by giving them Hershey’s Kisses.

(3) VIDEO CLIP. A video clip adapted from the CDC website entitled “Put Your Hands Together” will be shown to reinforce basic concepts and principles.

(4) INFOGRAPHICS. Pictures speak louder than words and so it goes. As an added feature of this lesson students will have to study infographics on:

(1)  the “Why of Handwashing” as shown below:

The Why Of Hand-Washing


(2)  the “How of Handwashing” as shown below:

The How Of Hand-Washing


(5) INTERACTIVE ENGAGEMENT. Students will work collaboratively in a class activity called Glo-Germ Exercise as described in this video:

Students will work in pairs with one student receiving three drops of Glo-Germ in both hands who then becomes the Experimentee. The Experimentee rubs the Glo-Germ on both hands and exposes them to UV light. The Experimenter will assess the extent of contamination on the hands of the experimentee by visually observing areas on the hand that glow under UV light. The Experimenter assists the Experimentee during the actual handwashing, i.e., applying liquid soap, opening the faucet and handing paper towel after handwashing. The Experimentee will then be subjected to a post-washing test under UV light. At this time the Experimenter will determine if the Experimentee did a good job washing his/her hands.

(6) LESSON WRAP UP. At the end of the class session, students will start the ball rolling by asking questions from the index cards they brought at the beginning of the class. Cold Calling or Kooshing Technique will be used here. The professor will bring enough Hershey’s Kisses for rewards purposes. There will be a Formal Quiz given one week after the lesson is completed.

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