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Patients Need to Wash Their Hands Too

Patients who fail to wash their hands in the hospital put themselves at risk of infection.

Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have been urged to wash their hands frequently. Hospitals even penalize health care professionals who do not follow hygiene guidelines.

But is the message getting through to patients that hand washing is especially important inside hospitals?

Canadian researchers used electronic monitoring technology on soap and sanitizer dispenses to measure when patients in three transplant units washed their hands. These people are especially to severe infections such as norovirus, C. diff or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) because their immune systems are suppressed.

Nonetheless, these patients only washed their hands about 30 percent of the time after using the bathroom, 40 percent of the time before meals and only 3 percent of the time when using cooking facilities on the units. Perhaps it’s time for hospitals to focus some attention on hand hygiene for patients and visitors as well as health care providers.

[Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, Oct. 2014]

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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