Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I See You

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The not so august thing about this month is I am getting to say 'I see you' to the ICU ( 'Intensive' Care Unit ) of the hospital every morning. And when I say its not easy to be on the bed and neither on the other side watching someone on one, you better take that. The hardest thing that I have put on my to do list is to observe our medical personnel for one simple task that they are expected to do, the most neglected procedure of hand washing. Hard hitting, nevertheless true.

Ideally hand washing is to be followed every time when these activities happen- before touching a patient, before a clean or aseptic procedure, after body fluid or exposure risk, after touching a patient, after touching a patient's surroundings. If this procedure is followed consciously it is said that there will be a drastic reduction in the number of hospital acquired infections. The results are already well documented worldwide. This does sound pretty cumbersome when there are so many patients and their emergencies to deal with. But if you were to blame anything, its not the busyness but the callousness. And it is often the consultants at the top, most of the staff nurses and the interns are actually found to follow the practice of washing their hands religiously.  

Imagine coming to the hospital with diarrhea and going to heaven with pneumonia, well this may happen. God forbid if your body or mind decides to go a little kaput. The funny thing is you do not know what you shall die with! Admission to the ICUs will stop being a ticket to death only if people who treat and the people who infect stop being the same. If you have come across that commercial in which a school kid goes "Hey Bunty there sabun slow hai kya?" let me tell you its not just the speed, the technique and the whole intention of doing it is what which matters more. So the next time you are at the doctor's clinic along with asking him about his educational qualification and experience in detail which most of us usually do for all our precautionary purposes, thanks to Aamir's Satyameva Jayate please do ask "Hand wash kiya kya?":-)

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Recommended Read : On Washing Hands by Atul Gawande in his book Complications.



dr.antony said...

You made it sound so funny.When I was a medical student, there used to be a nurse with a wash basin on wheels to go around with the doctors doing ward rounds.I don't see it these days.Instead,we have hand sanitizers installed on the walls at the hospital.I dont know how many hospitals in India have this,where patients sleep on the floor,toilets are places patients cannot even go near.

Raksha Bhat said...

@dr.antony: The infection control people are the most dreaded by the other doctors and nurses in the hospital;)