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Hand-Washing & Cleaning in Veterinary Medicine

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  • 00:01 Cleaning Chores
  • 00:33 Physical Cleaning Key Points
  • 2:00 Hand Hygiene: Proper Technique
  • 3:04 Hand Hygiene: What (Not) To Do
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will describe simple but important points regarding physical cleaning in a veterinary hospital as well as proper hand hygiene (including whether or not it's ok to wear rings).

Cleaning Chores

Maybe as a little kid you were tasked with cleaning stuff. Cleaning your room, almost certainly. But maybe you had to mop the floors or dust or something similar. I remember I had to do all three! And after cleaning something that was dirty, what did you do? Besides complaining? You probably washed your hands.

So, you might be familiar with cleaning and washing your hands from the day to day world but there are some nuances particular to a veterinary clinic I want to cover.

Physical Cleaning Key Points

The most common method of sanitary control in a veterinary clinic is simply physical cleaning. Physical cleaning includes mopping, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, and the like. The reason you physically clean something is to make it look clean, smell nice, and to get rid of grime, dirt, and debris. But in a veterinary hospital, you also do it to help prevent the spread of disease. That means spread of disease between animals and between animals and people.

When cleaning something in a veterinary facility, always follow these general rules:

  • Clean from the top to the bottom
  • Clean from the back towards the front
  • Work your way from dry to wet areas

These three techniques will help you prevent the spread of microbes, dirt, and other things to clean areas. Some of these techniques may use chemicals to help clean surfaces, like when you use a mop or sponge to clean a floor or a cage.

You must always properly clean an area before disinfecting it and when cleaning the area, you need to consider what kind of area you're cleaning. For instance, is the surface you're cleaning smooth or rough? A rough surface may need additional cleaning to wipe everything away. Or, do you need to vacuum or sweep the area first? Do you need to launder a fabric? And so on.

In general, cleaning is the responsibility of every staff member but even more so, veterinary assistants and kennel attendants. Veterinarians and veterinary nurses may be too busy attending to patients to contribute significantly to this process in some instances.

Hand Hygiene: Proper Technique

In addition to cleaning, hand hygiene is very important. Hand hygiene refers to the proper techniques used to maintain hand cleanliness, which contributes to the preservation of health. In our veterinary world, the preservation of both animal and human health.

Your hands will be exposed to tons of gross stuff. Some of it you can see, like feces. Other ones, you may not be able to see, like dangerous parasites in the feces. So, always use proper hand hygiene to ensure you don't get sick and you don't spread nasty stuff around to patients.

First, always use antibacterial soap, soap that kills microbes known as bacteria. When washing your hands with antibacterial soap, you need to rub your hands vigorously for a long time. A good rule of thumb for the length of time you need to adequately wash your hands is the time it takes for you to sing 'Happy Birthday'. If you wash your hands too quickly, you'll just end up spreading the germs around your hands instead. That's pretty gross.

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