Skill: All

Question: Do you need a barrier to turn the faucet on?

Answer: It depends…are your hands clean, or dirty? Dirty hands (and gloves) can touch a dirty faucet all day long, but clean hands cannot (that’s when you need a barrier). When you begin a skill you must wash your hands prior to touching the patient. The faucet is ALWAYS considered dirty (we touch it with dirty hands after toileting). So, if you are starting a skill, dirty hands can touch a dirty faucet…no problem! So, no barrier is needed to turn the faucet on. You will need one to turn it off, though, once your hands are clean.

If you are ending a skill after patient care and turning the faucet on to clean a basin or wash your hands, dirty hands can touch a dirty faucet…no problem! After cleaning supplies, you don’t need a barrier to turn the faucet off because your hands or gloves are still dirty.

But this is where it gets tricky! If you have already washed your hands, gathered supplies and you are now filling a basin to use on the patient, you MUST use a barrier to turn the faucet on! Otherwise, clean hands touch dirty faucet and will then touch patient…PROBLEM! 🙂

Bottom line? Dirty hands can touch a dirty faucet…but clean hands can’t!