Wednesday 20 February 2008

Handle With Care

Lately there has been widespread media acoverage of the HSE's "Did you wash your hands?" campaign.

People are outraged, baffled and bemused in equal measure at the idea. The HSE are more or less saying "we can't be 100% certain that our medical professionals have washed their hands after having them up some another patient's arse, so, to be on the safe side, we suggest you double check". If this is really the best idea HSE could come up to confine the spread of MRSA, we have a lot to be concerned about. After all, if a doctor/nurse can't be trusted to wash their hands how can we trust them to come clean (if you'll excuse the pun) when they haven't? In the unlikely event that they would admit to not washing their hands, would you trust them to treat you afterward?

In other places of employment, when minimum standards are not met, the employee can be issued with a verbal or written warning, be suspened or, after multiple offences, have their employment terminated. Quite why similar procedures can't be implemented in the health service is beyond me. Going on the same scale the "Did you wash your hand?" approach is roughly akin to playfully tussling the doctor's hair and declaring "You nearly killed me you little scamp. Here's 50c, go and buy yourself something nice but don't let me catch you doing that again".

In any case, what we should be asking them is "Have you washed your hands.... and encrypted my patient data?"

(Handle With Care - George Harrison)


Sam, Problemchildbride said...

One of worst things for spreading germs in hospitals, apparantly, are doctors' ties, dangling and trailing over surfaces and bedspreads. At least that's what American doctors have been told so fewer and fewer are going without.

The Bad Ambassador said...

Interseting stuff Sam.

That's the last think I would think of when it came to spreading infection. And all the time it was right under their noses.


Puerile Pish said...

The fact is this is merely a diversion on the part of the HSE. A huge percentage of people carry the MRSA bug normally. In the UK most health professionals are screened regularly, however the patients themselves and their visitors carry the bug. It would be more prudent to put proper controls in place and perhaps resrict visitors. Don't let this piece of propaganda cloud your mind.

The Bad Ambassador said...

I was aiming more at a cheap gag concerning the loss (through theft) of an IBTSB laptop containing data relating to thousands of donors and patients. (See the final hyperlink).

While it was not my aim to produce any substantial social or political commentary, your point is a good and valid one. My grandfather spent some time in hospital last year and there were handwashers and signs requesting visitors to wash their hands. As far as I could see, the majority of visitors simply walked past them.

Although the original post suggests otherwise (that was merely working towards the scamp and data lines), I do feel that the current campaign is something of an insult to our health care staff. For all the bad publicity the health care system receives, little of it can be directed towards the committed individuals who work on the front line, doing the best they can within a flawed environment.