A photo of a health provider washing her hands.
To protect the health of patients in the ICU, please clean your hands regularly

We all play a role in fighting infections in the hospital.

Most germs are spread on the hands of people who have touched a patient or a patient’s bed or bedside area. Although it is very rare for a healthy family member to contract an illness from a patient, visitors can spread germs to the waiting room, which can be carried to the patients or other areas.

Cleaning your hands helps to get rid of germs. All visitors and health care providers must practice good hand hygiene before AND after leaving a patient’s room, and before touching any objects (such as door handles or objects in the waiting room).

The best way to clean your hands is by using a waterless alcohol-based hand cleanser. The yellow dispensers are located by every bedside, and at various locations throughout the ICU. If your hands are visibly dirty, wash them thoroughly using soap and water, making sure to dry your hands completely using paper towel once finished.

Occasionally patients may be placed on isolation precautions. Different types of isolation may be required, depending on the way the germ is spread (i.e. some germs spread by touching a contaminated item, while others are spread by coughing and spraying infected droplets into the air).

If a patient is on isolation precautions, the nurse at the bedside will explain the steps that need to be taken before you visit. The most important precaution is to always practice good hand hygiene.

Some people carry bacteria that may not be making them sick, but still requires them to be placed on isolation precautions. Isolation precautions may include gloves and gowns, which in the patient’s room.