HOSPITALS across Lincolnshire are taking further steps to fight infection with a hand hygiene awareness week.
The awareness week, being run in United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust hospitals, is about reminding staff, patients and visitors about why hand hygiene is important in the fight against healthcare acquired infections.
Displays are being set up in the main entrance areas of Pilgrim Hospital, Boston and Lincoln County Hospital this week.
Representatives from the hospitals' infection prevention teams will be on hand to catch staff, patients, visitors to look at their hands and to spread the hand hygiene message.
This is about ensuring that all patients, staff and visitors regularly use alcohol hand wash that is available on all wards to clean their hands, especially before touching patients.
In addition, it is also about ensuring that people wash their hands with soap and water when anyone has diarrhoea, to prevent the spread of infections such as norovirus which can be a problem during the winter months.
It is also important that anyone with symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting do not visit the hospitals until they have been clear of symptoms for at least 48 hours.
During the week, wards and departments across the hospitals are also targeting specific areas of infections, for example Pilgrim Hospital have a set of slides displayed in each area to promote hand hygiene, Lincoln have been undertaking enhanced education around E Coli infections and all of the sites are undertaking snap-shot ward audits in relation to intravenous line management, urinary catheter care management and antibiotic prescribing, which includes hand hygiene practices.
Infection Prevention and Control Sister Wendy Creasey said ward staff have also been asked to challenge others who are not complying with hand hygiene measures or the bare below the elbow directive.
She said: "To ensure that staff keep spreading the hand hygiene messages, we have organised refresher sessions for staff, updating their knowledge on why it is important to carry out good hand hygiene measures.
"Hand hygiene is one of the most powerful tools we have to prevent the spread of infection.
"We need to regularly remind people about the importance of hand hygiene to ensure that we keep the number of infections in hospitals to the absolute minimum."