• Doctors are just filthy, huh?

    Man, it feels like it’s all doctor bashing today. First, they don’t wash their hands:

    Getting health care professionals to comply with notices to wash their hands before and after dealing with patients has been something of a thorn in the side of many hospitals. Although this simple measure limits the spread of sickness — and could potentially reduce the nation’s hospital health care bill by billions of dollars — many doctors and nurses simply ignore it. Compliance rates for hand washing in American hospitals are only around 40 percent, and years of awareness programs urging doctors to wash up or use disinfectant gels have had little effect.

    It also turns out their clothing is filthy:

    Up to 60% of hospital staff’s uniforms are colonized with potentially pathogenic bacteria, including drug-resistant organisms. It remains to be determined whether these bacteria can be transferred to patients and cause clinically relevant infection.

    As I’ve said before, getting doctors to change their behavior is glacial work. But this is pretty low hanging fruit. We should be able to fix these issues easily.

    Plus, it might make people like doctors more.

    • Those of us who work in healthcare know those numbers are a manipulation of reality. We had a handwashing spy in clinic who would keep tabs on our washing and report to the powers that be. Turns out, if I went into a room and washed my hands there instead of outside of the room, it didn’t count because no one saw it. If I washed my hands when I left a room and didn’t then wash my hands again as I walked directly into the next room, it didn’t count. So at best, I would score 50% even if I was 100% compliant with always washing my hands before touching a patient. God forbid I washed my hands before I left a room and after I entered the next room each time or I would have scored zero. The truth is in the details. The bashing is in the media. And by the way, there is a very good chance your clothing harbors nasty bacteria too, not to mention your skin.