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Policies and procedures. Believe it or not healthcare organizations have to have policies and procedures even on how their personnel should wash their hands.

Organization. Policies and procedures follow a strict organizational sequence: purpose, definitions, policies, procedures.

Format. To permit ease of reading and reference, an outline format is used, with decimal numbering. Notice the indentation. Subsections align to the text of the preceding, higher-level section. For example, section 3.2.A aligns to "Personnel" of section 3.2.

Definitions. Although it's hard not to laugh at the beginning of the definition of handwashing, the reference to an antimicrobial agent is significant—you can't just use hand soap!

Policies. A "policy" is a statement of a goal, a reference to a law or regulation, or in this case an explanation of conditions in which these procedures must be followed.

Procedures. Here begin the step-by-step instructions, which use imperative phrasing. The procedures show you how to carry out the policy.

Telegraphic writing style. Notice that in the policy and procedure sections, "understood" words are often omitted. Instead of "Discard the paper towel," it's "Discard paper towel." In this setting, telegraphic style is expected; otherwise, avoid it whenever you can.

Specifics. Considering the detail here and what's at stake, maybe policies and procedures on handwashing are not so absurd after all?

Other material. If you look at policy and procedure manuals in organizations, you'll see more material on the pages than you see here: for example, the name of the organization, headers or footers identifying the policy/procedure, and dates and approval stamps indicating the expiration or validity of this policy/procedure.

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