Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hand Wahing and Patient Safety

Oh No, Another Hand Washing Story.......

Well, I'm pretty sure offended another medical professional. I hate when that happens. I am generally a nice person and would never purposely hurt someone’s feelings – even if I didn’t like them. But when this nurse came through like a whirlwind and took the patient’s temperature I couldn’t stop her.

When she reached for the tools to do a throat culture, I jumped into action……..

“Excuse me, you will wash your hands first right”? Saying anything else, delaying the words “wash your hands”, and she would have torn through the huge q-tip wrapper to be used for a throat culture and, as far as I’m concerned, possibly contaminate it.

“I washed before I came into the room”.

“You touched the pen and the clip board. I’m sure they weren’t washed”. I felt the tension rising and saw her body tighten as she put down the still wrapped tools.

As she walked over to use the antibacterial lotion, she told me in a tense voice “I’ve worked in the emergency room for 30 years and never got anyone sick and never got sick”.

I wanted to say she didn’t know that but realized she was defending her action of not washing - so I let it go.

“I’m sorry if I offended you” I told her.

She said she wasn’t offended. "It takes a lot to offend me".

She has been doing this a long time. Still, I could tell that she was upset.

When she completed her task, and left the room I got a “high five” from my young buddy that turned out to have a pretty bad infection which ended him up in this after hour’s clinic.

When the doctor arrived to do the complete exam, I told her “Before you even start, I am going to ask you to wash your hands before you examine him, even though I’m sure you did.” She looked at me oddly. “But” I went on “ I think I offended your nurse so I am giving you advance warning”. The doctor walked over to the sink and scrubbed up – no offense taken.

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