Hand Washing: A Deadly Dilemma

The Huffington Post:

New Yorker essayist Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a prestigious teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School. A couple years ago, he wrote a profile of his hospital’s infection control team, whose full-time job is to control the spread of infectious disease in the hospital. The focus of the piece was hand washing — or more accurately, the team’s failed efforts to get doctors, nurses and others in patient care to adequately disinfect their hands.

They tried everything. They repositioned sinks and had new, automated ones installed. They bought $5,000 “precaution carts” to make washing, gloving and gowning easy and efficient. They posted admonishing signs and issued hygiene “report cards.” They even gave away free movie tickets as an incentive for cleaning up. Nothing worked: Brigham and Women’s remains comparable to hospitals everywhere, which means that doctors and nurses wash their hands one-third to one-half as often as they should.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

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