Monday, September 25, 2006

How to Get Doctors to Wash their Hands

From the Freakonomics Column of the New York Times:
They pressed their palms into the plates, and Murthy sent them to the lab to be cultured and photographed. The resulting images, Silka says, "were disgusting and striking, with gobs of colonies of bacteria." The administration then decided to harness the power of such a disgusting image. One photograph was made into a screen saver that haunted every computer in Cedars-Sinai...
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Jenny said...

When my son was in hospital after his transplant I became very concerned that we had all this staff in and out of his room and I never saw anyone wash their hands before they touched this highly-immunosuppressed kid.
Finally the morning came that I kind of blew up at the surgeon and told him I wanted to take my son home where I felt that at that point he'd be safer. He asked me what my concerns were, I told him the handwashing was HUGE on the list. I got the excuse that everyone was washing their hands at the station outside the door. What good does that do if they're touching the doorknob on the way in--and who knows what else without even thinking about it--before they touch stuff in my son's room.
He said my concern was very legitimate and he'd address it with the staff. After that it was like a parade watching every person walk straight to our sink to wash their hands before they did anything else in the room. ;)
With the amazing medical technology we have in this country it just kills me that we see so many hospital aquired infections.
The hospital where my husband works went through the refiners fire with him after our son's transplant and we became aware of the importance of hand washing. He blew a gasket at how bad the universal precautions were ignored in his own dept. Not any more. I'd bet they have the cleanest hands in the whole facility. LOL :)
It's such a simple thing yet it can make the difference between life and death.

Anonymous said...

Doctors are'nt the only ones with mud on their hands. Even though nurses will often take the moral highground when talking about hand hygiene, we are probably just as bad (if not worse due to our greater patient contact)
See 'S is for Skin' Here:

Paul Auerbach, M.D. said...

Even in the wilderness, most doctors do not get religion about handwashing and disinfection until they have suffered a serious episode of infectous diarrhea. Then, they cannot wash their hands enough...
Medicine for the Outdoors Blog