Friday, August 21, 2009

No Dinner 'til You Wash Your Hands

No double dipping for me, please.

The media is certainly hitting the swine flu topic hard and from many angles.
Here is a new one for all to wring their hands over.

The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases has seen fit to warn the Australian Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer that they are worried about the flu vax being in multi-dose vials.
Multi-dose vials means multiple needles piercing the little grey diaphragm on the bottles top.
The concern is that syringes or needles will be reused leading to you sharing fluids with that guy in front of you in the jab line.

Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn't it?

But then, two years ago the UKs Chief Medical Officer advised hospital patients to bring hand sanitizer and keep it by their bed.
They were to demand that every doctor or nurse that entered the room use the sanitizer.
Less than 60 per cent of doctors wash their hands between patients, according to the CMO, so it's up to patients to scold them into better hygeine, and have that sanitizer ready so they can't weasel out of it. Daily Telegraph, July 19, 2007

Infection rates in hospitals are tracked, but "because of the sensitive nature of the data, the NNIS system has been granted a guarantee of confidentiality for the identities of both the patients and the reporting hospitals under Section 308(d) of the Public Health Service Act."

Can't let the people see the real dirt, apparently. Why, hospitals may no longer cooperate with data gathering, and patients may lose confidence in the hospitals!
However, in California last year there was a proposal to make such information transparent.

Lest you think the simple task of handwashing is to be laughed off, it is such a serious issue that hospitals have hand-washing surveillance monitors. (Search on: hospital hand washing)
Sounds pretty grade-school, pretty junior-won't-take-his-Sunday-bath.

There is even a Journal of Hospital Infection, printed by The Hospital Infection Society.
You laughing or crying yet?

I will now make the point.

So, if a group of caregivers in a contained setting (hospital), with staff dedicated to monitor and encourage the simple, basic, universally recognized and proven task of handwashing to prevent the spread of disease-- which these very caregivers are ethically bound to prevent-- can't be bothered to behave as responsible adults by washing their hands, then I'm perfectly willing to believe there is some doctor or nurse (the talk is of pharmacists and dentists providing jabs as well) out there who will double dip.

Lastly, what is the simplest, most basic, least expensive and dangerous recommendation for flu prevention?
Handwashing, correct?
If you go for the jab don't forget to bring your own hand sanitizer. And hypo. And demand the first dose from the bottle.

Bonus round:
Brilliant one pager on hospital acquired infection that mentions the above and the 50% reduction in nosocomial infection in one hospital that instituted this "don't touch me with those filthy hands" policy and also touches on reused hypos as sources of infection.