Research for infection protection

Five moments for hand hygiene

Jointly with US-American colleagues and basing on the long experience of the University Hospitals Geneva with national hand hygiene programmes, Swiss scientists developed the “My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” concept. The user-centred concept for improving compliance is an essential element in WHO’s final Hand Hygiene guideline issued in 2009 and in the German “AKTION Saubere Hände” hand hygiene campaign.

”My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” simplifies the indications and situation descriptions detailed in the RKI recommendations on hand hygiene (see box) and summarises them in 5 central risk situations for pathogen transmission. Thus, the indications are easier to remember. Additionally, symmetries (5 moments = 5 fingers of one hand) facilitate learning of the indications.

Basic principles of the “"My 5 Moments” concept"

Starting point

The concept is based on the knowledge of the essential pathogen sources

  • Colonised or infected patients are the prime source of nosocomial pathogens.
  • The environment within healthcare settings is colonised by a large number of pathogens and is another possible source of transmission.
  • The patient surrounding is colonised by pathogens of the patient’s flora.


Identify the two critical zones

  • Patient zone
    This zone comprises the patient including her/his intact skin and the immediate surroundings including all inanimate surfaces, e.g. bed frames, bedside tables, bed linen, infusion sets which may be touched during patient contact. This also includes surfaces frequently touched by caregivers, for example controls of monitors.
  • Healthcare zone
    This zone comprises all objects/persons outside the patient zone, e.g. other patients and their zones, and all areas exceeding the patient room.


Identify the most important situations in which hand disinfection shall prevent the transmission of pathogens: The “5 Moments” for Hand Hygiene

  • BEFORE contact with patients or residents
  • BEFORE an aseptic task
  • AFTER body fluid exposure risk
  • AFTER contact with patients or residents
  • AFTER contact with patient surroundings


To read more on the WHO „Clean Care is Safer Care“ campaign please click here.

To visit the website of the German “AKTION Saubere Hände” (Clean Hands campaign) please click here.