It is one of the most important things that hospital workers can do to keep patients safe. It is virtually no cost and can be done by anyone in the matter of a minute. The statement, “Wash your hands,” is drummed into hospital personnel during their training, through orientation, and in pamphlets. Washing one’s hands not only stops the spread of bacteria and viruses, but it can also stop deadly MRSA from spreading in a hospital setting.
Hospitals recommend that doctors and nurses wash their hands before seeing every patient and on their way out, but medical professionals can forget to uphold this important responsibility. In fact, only about 40 percent of health care workers in the U.S. wash their hands as often as it’s recommended. Hospitals are beginning to pay attention to this practice and are even using new surveillance technologies.
A new device has been installed at Baptist Princeton Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. A special badge tells hospital administrators exactly how often doctors and nurses wash their hands through information that is transmitted wirelessly. Nurses have mixed feeling about the technology. It is sort of a “Big Brother of hand washing” looking over their shoulders. Many do not care for the invasive surveillance and the message of distrust that it sends. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is using focus groups to gauge how sensitive healthcare workers are to the surveillance. But the bottom line is that the technology is being used to change behavior, not just to be punitive.
Hospital infections are estimated to be responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Americans every year, about the same number of patients who are killed by medical malpractice. If the deaths and the cost of billions of dollars a year can be addressed by the simple and inexpensive device that encourages hand washing, then isn’t that a device we all can afford? Many hospitals are now being found in violation of simple rules of cleanliness that can prevent the spread of a hospital infection.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed from a hospital-acquired infection, please contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney to help preserve your rights and to launch the proper investigation.