Would You Ask Your Doctor If He Washed His Hands?
A new study finds most patients would ask this question, but medical professionals aren’t hot on the idea
By now, we’re all well aware of the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of germs — especially in health care settings, like doctors’ offices and hospitals. We’re comfortable washing our own hands and telling our kids to wash theirs. But what about asking a doctor or nurse to do it? Should you? Would you?
Most hospital patients and their families — at least those in South Korea — are willing to, according to a new research conducted by researchers at the Seoul National University College of Medicine and published in the American Journal of Infection Control. But doctors and nurses in the study weren’t too keen on patients reminding them to scrub up. Only 26 percent of docs and 31 percent of nurses were OK with the idea of patients asking them to wash their hands.
According to Reuters, “The most common reason they disagreed with patient participation was concern about negative effects on relationships with patients. Other reasons included an increase in workload…concerns about legal problems and concern that their authority would be undermined.”
Studies suggest that, left to their own devices, medical personnel in U.S. hospitals wash up as little as 30 percent of the time they deal with patients. Hospitals are making concerted efforts to boost hand-washing rates, especially with drug-resistant infections on the rise, but the struggle continues.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages patients to be aware of the importance of so-called hand hygiene (washing hands or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), noting that “your doctors and nurses should practice hand hygiene every time they enter your room.” The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits health care organizations, even sells buttons for lab coats that read, “Ask me if I’ve washed my hands.”
Would you do it? Take our poll and let us know.