In the department of “things I wish I hadn’t read”: “Compliance rates for hand washing in American hospitals are only around 40 percent.” Geez. Thanks a lot, New York Times. Apparently it’s really, really hard to get doctors and nurses to wash their hands between patients, despite sign after posted sign that tells them they have to. Turns out, those signs are the problem! According to a study coming out in the journal Psychological Science, changing the wording from “Wash your hands to protect yourself” to “Wash your hands to protect your patients” might be enough to spur hospital workers to wash their hands more frequently. Sayeth the Times:
“There’s this perception among some health care providers that ‘I’m around sick people all the time and I don’t get sick very often, so my immune system is extra strong,’” said David Hofmann, an author of the study and a professor of organizational behavior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “But if you go back to the Hippocratic oath that all doctors adhere to, it’s ‘First do no harm.’ So if you have a sign that says ‘Hey, look, here’s a really vulnerable person you’re about to walk in and see,’ then maybe a sign focused on that person will cue this larger core value in the physician to protect the patient.”
You can read about the researchers’ methodology over here, but here’s the takeaway: Compared with other signs, the patient-centric signage yielded a 33 percent increase in the amount of soap and disinfectant used over the course of two weeks. Hooray?
Read the whole story: Philadelphia Magazine