Wash your hands. It’s drilled into our heads almost from the day we’re born – there are few things in life as important as proper hand hygiene.
Went outside to play? Wash your hands. Went to the bathroom? Wash your hands. Getting ready to eat? Wash your hands. Pet the dog? Wash your hands. Touched money? Wash your hands.
What about if you’re getting ready to touch a sick or injured person with an already taxed immune system?
Hand hygiene, and the overall effort to slow the spread of hospital-acquired infections, has turned to direct patient/provider interaction. More and more patients are now considering asking their doctors or nurses if they’ve washed their hands before allowing them to provide care.
It makes sense. Doctors and nurses are provided with ample opportunities to ensure that their hands are cleaned between patient visits. Sanitizers on the walls, disinfectants at the sinks, as well as countless numbers of individual-sized bottles of hand sanitizer stuffed into pockets mean that a healthcare provider has little excuse not to clean their hands, even when on the go. Yet, hospital-acquired infection rates continue to rise.
Who Is Willing to Question Their Doctor?
It seems rather awkward, we’ll admit. You’re sitting on the table or in the bed, and just as the doctor or nurse is getting ready to tend to you, you stop them and ask the same question that your mother asked you before you ate dinner as a child: Have you washed your hands?
Patients are more willing to have this conversation than you might think. A survey conducted in South Korea of 334 patients and family members, 152 doctors, and 387 nurses concluded that 75% of patients and 84% of their families wanted to ask their doctor or nurse had washed their hands, or to simply ask them to wash their hands in front of them.
Not surprisingly, the medical professionals themselves were a bit less keen on the idea. Only about a quarter of the doctors and less than a third of the nurses viewed this as a positive move.
What Would You Do?
Hospital-acquired infection rates are on the rise. Granted, some are the result of contaminated instruments, like the 2 LA-area deaths associated with contaminated duodenoscopes. But, as doctors and nurses move from patient to patient and room to room, do you ever wonder how much attention they pay to cleaning their hands before they reach you?
Come and talk to us on Facebook and let us know if this is a conversation you would be willing to have with your doctor or nurse.