How many hand washing basins do I need in my hospital?

It’s more than you think

Hand hygiene remains absolutely essential for preventing healthcare-associated infections.[1] 

A matter of such importance must not be underestimated or mismanaged at any level. In recent times, hospitals have unfortunately needed to uphold staff and patient care whilst working under strained budgets with limited resources.

Nobody in hospital management wants to do less than their best on safety, nor be accused of wasting floorspace. By prioritising infection control and mitigation, hospital staff need not operate in fear for themselves or patients.   

Though variation in hospital layout and capacity may alter the finer details, the baseline needs remain the same.  

Hospitals, at the bare minimum, require the following:

  1. At least one basin in every bay.

Any section holding between four and six patients will need one basin for use by both staff and patients. Most hospitals house four to six bays per ward.

  1. Two basins in every ward corridor.

Hospitals must keep hand washing frequent, simple and if possible, distanced. Putting two basins in each ward corridor can prevent risky, unnecessary crowding, just as frequent washing with high-quality equipment can prevent microbial build-up.

  1. One basin in every clinic room.

Frequent bodily examination occurs in clinics, with the relevant staff member needing to wash before and after the procedure.

  1. One basin in every patient side room on a ward.

A separate place for patients with higher infection risk or an additional infection which could spread to others. These patients are isolated for their own and others’ safety, and their spaces must come with adequate hand washing facilities.

  1. One basin in each patient room per department.

Certain wards have the potential for greater exposure to germs and bacteria than others. Therefore, a facilities manager will need to place one basin in each patient room to best prevent the spread of infection. For example, due to the nature of the work on labour wards, readily available hand washing facilities are key in order to provide optimal protection.

  1. One basin in patient kitchens and one basin in staff kitchens

Kitchens should have designated hand washing basins near the entrance. The hand washing basin must be distinct from the main sink that is used for meal preparation and washing up.

  1. An additional section which you may not have considered: A&E.

Accident and Emergency departments tend to shy away from incorporating hand washing basins due to factors such as space, operational demands and high frequency crowding. Thorough hand washing is likely to fall by the wayside in such a high-activity environment.

Due to time constraints, sanitising gel is preferred. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, washing with soap and water is the best way to remove all types of germs and harmful chemicals.[2] And every A&E room would benefit from the addition of a hand washing basin.