Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another Hospital Visit

A patient, showing “flu like symptoms” spits on the ground on his way into the emergency department of a local hospital. A visitor there to see a surgery patient unaware, steps in it and now stands next to the bed of the patient after surgery. The visitor, looking for a place to put her oversized pocketbook lays it on the floor to avoid making the bag an inconvenience during their visit. Ready to leave, she lifts her bag from the floor, puts her hand under it to hold it close and then leans over to kiss the patient goodbye, placing the same hand from under the bag on the rail of the patient’s bed.

Sound strange? Maybe, but surely not impossible.

I am sure I touched the patient’s bed rail more than I wanted to at a recent hospital visit even though I didn’t touch the patient. I also watched the nurse who was about to examine the patient’s wound following a procedure touch the same bed rail while in conversation with the patient and his mother. So, when she lifted the blanket to examine the wound, I was pretty surprised when I asked her to wash her hands she said “I did already” and immediately placed her hand over the bandaged area.

I am not paranoid about infection, although I know my own son had one when he died following his tonsillectomy. I do know, I will never know how he got it. But I am aware, because of the rate of infections, that there are many things we, the patient can be doing to help the patient stay safe. One of them is not putting our bags on the floor, touching the bed rest without washing and gently asking someone who is about to examine the patient, to wash. But hospitals are still not listening.

-Hospitals and healthcare organizations are not “formally” training patients to act and react.
-Healthcare workers are still put off by a simple request like please wash.
-And still there are no signs available over the patient’s bed to encourage patient and family participation.

I am sure I would not have been as concerned if two of the antibacterial hand sanitizers in the patient’s treatment area weren’t empty when I tried using them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know where you were. I feel terrible. I work there