Thursday, 10 June 2010

Hospital Hygiene

I'm a hospital visitor this week. Not one of my favourite occupations these days I assure you and that's mainly because the hospital I'm visiting still looks dirty. Mind you, Leg Iron will possibly tell you looking dirty and being dirty aren't necessarily one and the same, but my brain interprets the image in that way.

At Dundee's Ninewells hospital entrance a voice which appears to come from the wilderness tells you to 'put our your cigarette as this is a no smoking area' and then 'wash your hands when entering and leaving the ward'.

Once I reached the ward I required I couldn't see any wash basins, none before then either, so asked a member of staff where I could wash my hands. They looked suitably stunned, as if I'd asked for my own death certificate then stuttered, " You'll have to use the basin in the bay you want." Superb hand-washing management, you must agree.

If you're attending a clinic then you have to use the basins in a public lavatory - if you can find one - because clinic areas don't have wash-hand basins for public use. They are all in the consulting rooms.

I can't deny there are plenty bottles of hand-gel dotted along walls but there is nothing to tell the public that hand-gel does not destroy the c.difficile spores. Hot water and soap is the only deterrent. In the ward I was visiting there is a notice on the wall stating the number and dates of the last outbreaks of MRSA and c.difficile. That would really encourage confidence in me had I had been rushed there semi-conscious as was my friend.

So this week I decided I would snap on a pair of disposable gloves when entering the building and put them in the waste bin upon departure. Along with other sensible measures, such as refusing the offer of any food or drink, I'm hoping I will avoid anything to do with the c.difficile bug. If I contracted it a second time I doubt I would survive.

If hospitals can't provide hand washing facilities then perhaps they can provide disposable gloves at the entrances? A couple of pairs could see most visitors through the ordeal of fighting unseen life-threatening infections. Ninewells could be one of the best places to start a serious hygiene programme given recent events.

It's time the NHS in Scotland paid as much attention to hygiene as it does to funding Health


Jayce Kay said...

Its a complete bloody nonsense that in this day and age the NHS is still getting basics like medical hygiene all cockeyed and literally killing patients and visitors with bugs that for want of a hot running water, soap and means of drying ones hands.
Will this new lot make any difference? I'd like to think so, but I'm probably being too over optimistic.

Richard said...

Dirty hands are the least of your friend's worries. My wife was in hospital and had to have blood taken. It went wrong and some of her blood ended up on the wall behind her bed.

Three months later she was admitted to the same ward in the same hospital. Her blood stain was still there.

Dramfineday said...

Ha, ha, ha, what a hoot, there was Dram's faither lying zonked to the world in intensive care following a triple bypass (and a few other tubular adjustments) when a rather anxious Dram came to visit. Unfortunately I had a dose of the cold and had purchased a kit of face masks (plus hand gels etc) one of which I put on when visting him as he lay strapped to the national grid. Much merriment ensued from the medical staff with a "why are you wearing that" question from a junior person.... oh how they laughed. And this at the hight of the swine flu pandemic.

I think part of the trouble is they are so wrapped up in it; blood, guts, death and disease that they miss the damn obvious - filth kills! Bring back lysol and the daily wash downs....hospitals stunk but they were clean.

Better still bring in John Seddon and stop bloody stupid NHS measurement and reporting systems that mean knowt.

English Viking said...

'...rushed to hospital semi-conscious...'

Ahh, the memories. Although I have to admit it was not C Diff.

PS Get well soon.

muddypaws said...

For C Diff, you're right about alcohol rubs....ruddy useless, but simple good old fashioned bleach works fine.
You can get hand wipes with bleach in them.

Latex gloves.....I'm not so sure about; spread is through the oral-fecal route, so you'd be better off ( imho) with a face mask, cos that would stop you touching your mouth with hands that have been touching other things that other people who haven't washed their hands have been touching!!

Now, back to BLEACH:

Have you noticed that most folks in hospitals these days are wearing colour coded uniforms and that these uniforms are made from poly-cotton?
Uniform washing is a big issue.
Either the staff wash their own which case they generally don't do it every day, and even if they do, they wash the coloured uniform in a bleach free detergent( at an eco friendly low energy temperature), or if it is washed by a hospital laundry/laundry contractor they tend to wash coloureds again without bleach. Now, in theory the infection control component of the wash is provided by a temperature/time trade-off in the wash cylcle.....but we all know ( don't we?) that C-Diff is temperature resistant, so if you are going to miss out the chemical disinfectant you need to hike up the temperature/time ratios in the wash cycle. Nobody does this at home, and i'll bet a penny to a pound that NHS laundries/contractors don't do it either, firstly because of cost and secondly because the easycare fabrics look like cr*p after half a dozen washes.

rant over (sorry)

JuliaM said...

"...I can't deny there are plenty bottles of hand-gel dotted along walls "

Really? That's lucky!

Down South, the hospitals have a problem keeping them filled...

subrosa said...

It is Jayce and hospitals are spending a fortune on chemical handwashes which do not destroy all bugs such as c.diff.

subrosa said...

Dirty hands were my worry Richard, hence the gloves.

Isn't that dreadful? One of the times I was admitted a couple of years ago there was blood on the floor by the side of the bed. The patient in the next bed said the last woman 'had bled a lot'. When I told the nurse about it she just went for a wet-wipe and cleaned it up. In fact she had to go back for more wet-wipes because it was everywhere. She wasn't pleased.

subrosa said...

We should have single rooms in hospitals Dram, that would stop much of the infection. But of course, intensive care has to be as it is for various reasons.

I was told recently hospitals have now returned to using non-stinking bleach based products. As yet I have found no official notice of that but if it is true, then that's a definite improvement.

The hospital I'm visiting this week has also recently returned to having 'in house' cleaners who have made a difference.

subrosa said...

English Viking, it was my friend's husband who was rushed in semi-conscious, not me.

It's nearly three years since I contracted c.diff so, with the exception of a few life-long health problems as a result, I'm fine now.

subrosa said...

There is that muddypaws, you're right.

That is another problem I never actually considered. Of course nobody is going to up their wash temperature because of the cost of electricity these days. I do most of my washing on 30 degrees too with the exception of towels etc.

If you look along supermarket shelves you'll not see a washing product saying 'kills all germs' (has bleach) but there are plenty saying 'eco-friendly' (whatever that is but they certainly don't have a bleach content).

All a con of course to get the word 'eco' into people's minds...

subrosa said...

I have to admit Julia, they are well filled in the place I'm visiting this week.

Isn't that terribly sad that people resort to drinking hand wash? Yes I know it''s inconvenient to hospital visitors but it's dreadful to think an alcohol addiction can be reduced to that.

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