Ideally, the hospital is where germs go to die. In reality, that doesn’t always happen, and it becomes a breeding ground instead. Germs hop from hand to hand to nose to mouth to wound… Yikes.
Because of this, nurses and doctors are supposed to wash their hands before treating you. But as a patient—or a patient’s companion—if you don’t see this happen, you need to insist upon it.
And here’s where it can get awkward for the timider among us. If the thought of being assertive with an authority figure makes you more squeamish than seeing blood, perhaps a tip from Elizabeth Bailey, author of The Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Hospital Checklists to Keep You Safe, will help.
You should plant that next to your bed so that you can frequently clean your hands — and not-so-subtly remind everyone else to do likewise. That may lower the risk that you will pick up a nasty infection.
If a nurse fails to do some hand scrubbing before treating you, perhaps you can politely offer some of your bedside germ killer. The nurse should take the hint. If not (sigh) you’ll have to insist. After all, you went there to get well, not give them repeat business.
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September 21, 2023
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Francesca Robinson, MA
August 31, 2023