Betsy McCaughey, director of RID (Reduce Hospital Deaths) reminds us in her latest Wall Street Journal article that those hospital germs, the ones that cause death and debilitation, are everywhere.
In her most recent article, she points to doctors’ and nurses’ scrubs, coats, ties — their clothing. MRSA, C.Diff. and other infectious pathogens cling to the fabric and get passed from patient to patient.
So — imagine that for a moment — the doctor brushes you with his white coat, that very item that represents his/her MD-dom — and passes an infection on to you which will make you very, very sick, or even kill you.
From Dr. McCaughey’s article:
The problem is that some medical personnel wear the same unlaundered uniforms to work day after day. They start their shift already carrying germs such as C.diff, drug-resistant enterococcus or staphylococcus. Doctors’ lab coats are probably the dirtiest. At the University of Maryland, 65% of medical personnel confess they change their lab coat less than once a week, though they know it’s contaminated. Fifteen percent admit they change it less than once a month. Superbugs such as staph can live on these polyester coats for up to 56 days.
Do unclean uniforms endanger patients? Absolutely. Health-care workers habitually touch their own uniforms. Studies confirm that the more bacteria found on surfaces touched often by doctors and nurses, the higher the risk that these bacteria will be carried to the patient and cause infection.
According to Dr. McCaughey, hospitals used to provide laundered uniforms and scrubs to their personnel, but that practice has gone by the wayside.
So, it seems like it would be a good practice to bring back. Especially since Medicare is no longer paying for care for patients who acquire infections in the hospital, it seems that laundering that clothing would be far less expensive than having to eat the cost of caring for so many infected patients.
Today’s second warning comes from Bottom Line Health, one of my favorite publications. I like Bottom Line because it doesn’t accept advertising, and it always brings in multiple points of view, e.g. the best of Eastern and Western medicine and ideas.
This notation comes from Jean-Yves Maillard, PhD from Cardiff University in Wales, UK who tells us that those disinfectant wipes we use on surfaces to kill bacteria (think clorox wipes, or those wipes they put near the shopping carts at supermarkets) may actually just spread those germs around. We may not be killing those buggers at all! Dr. Maillard suggests instead that we use one wipe per surface — or one swipe per wipe.
When it comes to these killer germs, we patients just can’t be too careful, can we?
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