Thursday, November 29, 2012

@drsusanshaw couldn't do it. Could you?

Dr. Susan Shaw practices intensive care medicine in a hospital in Saskatoon and also chairs the province's Health Quality Council. She understands the importance of hand hygiene as well as anyone in the world.  Yet, when her daughter was being treated in a hospital, Susan noticed:  "I didn’t see anyone wash their hands before or after they cared for my daughter."

She continues:

And I couldn’t get out the words “Excuse me, would you please wash your hands for us?” I’ve thought long and hard about why I didn’t say anything.

Read further to see her explanation and offer your own thoughts on the matter. Susan asks:

Have you as a patient ever asked a healthcare worker to wash their hands? What did it feel like and what was the response? Have you, as a healthcare worker, ever been asked to wash your hands by a patient?  How did it feel? What did you learn?


Anonymous said...

Appalling that someone so involved in medicine still feels that the care of their loved one will be damaged by asking medical professionals to follow basic hygiene. And yes, I asked. My wife's safety is worth more than any of my concerns, or the jobs of the people treating her. Had I needed to, I'd have called every nurse, doctor and hospital executive until someone fixed the issue if I thought care was compromised.

Kept a list of other policies that were questionable too, ID tags turned over, PHI being read for a yes/no response rather than asked for, rude staff, etc.

If those of us who know better don't do this, what chance does the rest of the population have?

Anonymous said...

My wife asked the nurses caring for her grandfather in the ER to wash their hands. One nurse said, "I just washed them before I came in" (yeah, right). She politely asked that she wash them again. After she did the same with the next nurse word apparently spread as every other clinician washed their hands in the room. Perhaps, the first two were the outliers and everyone else is perfect at handwashing but I know that isn't the case.

Additionally, when my wife had our baby almost 3 years ago all of the nurses except one asked her name and date of birth before giving her meds or doing anything else. When the one didn't ask, my wife said, "aren't you going to ask me my name and date of birth", to which the nurse replied "no, I did that the first time". Incredulous, my wife said "all the others ask me every time". The nurse replied "I guess I just have a better memory than the others".

As a hospital administrator at the hospital where my wife was being cared for, I was stunned and absolutely furious. I politely reminded her of the hospital policy and why it was in place.

It is important that we continuously remind the front-line staff WHY we do this not just TO DO it.

Anonymous said...

There isn't a Purell sanitizer outside every room?

Paul Levy said...

Yes. So?

Pat Mastors said...

I urge every patient to keep hand sanitizer at the bedside (sadly it's not enough against C.diff spores, but helps with other germs). There is only that brief instant before someone touches you that you have an opportunity to speak up. Then it's gone. In that moment, you (or your advocate) can hold out the hand sanitizer upside-down and say "do you mind? I promised my daughter/mother/kids/self I'd ask for this every time." They're much more likely to smile and hold their hand out. It's not as confrontational as sending them "back out to the door" to use the dispenser. Is it right you'd have to do this? No. But until this issue goes away, I'll take effective over right any day.