Do you know there is no law to require cleanliness in our hospitals? Do you know that is why we get infections while we are in the hospital? Shouldn’t we have laws that require our hospitals to be as clean as a meat packing plant? They have laws to require cleanliness.
Did you know that our hospitals are exempt from inspections for cleanliness? That is a fact, restaurants, cruise ships, food processing plants all are inspected for cleanliness but not our hospitals. The Joint Commission which, inspects and accredits hospitals doesn’t measure cleanliness. Neither does state health departments, nor federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New data presented at the annual April meeting of Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America documented the lack of hygiene in hospitals and its relationship to deadly infections. Boston University researchers who examined 49 operating rooms found that more than half the objects that should have been disinfected were over looked. A study of 20 hospitals in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C found that more than half the surfaces that should have been cleaned for new patients were left dirty.
A new University of Maryland study showed that 65 percent of physicians, and other medical professionals admitted they hadn’t washed their coat in at least a week even thought they knew it was dirty. Nearly 16 percent said they hadn’t put on a clean lab coat in at least a month. Lab coats become contaminated when doctors lean over the bed of a patient, and they spread infections to other patients. Days later the bacteria is still alive infecting the doctors hands, and patients
Stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and EKG wires are used on successive patients without being cleaned. Studies published as long ago as 1978 warn that blood pressure cuffs carry live bacteria, including MRSA, and are a source of infection. In a newly released British report one third of blood pressure cuffs wee found to be covered with clostridium difficile, a germ that can cause lethal diarrhea if it enters the mouth. It isn’t far from the patients cuff to the bare arm, to the fingertips and to the mouth.
There is a simple solution, and that is, a through cleaning with detergent and water. That’s all it takes to curb the spread of deadly bacteria. When researchers at Rush University Medical Center of Chicago trained the staff to soak surfaces with detergents and water rather than spraying and wiping, and to clean commonly overlooked objects, such as telephones, remote controls, and faucets, the spread of VRE to patients were reduced by two thirds.
Do we believe it is more important to test for cleanliness in a hot dog factory than in our hospitals? Testing is essential because bacteria are invisible. You would think a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission would be clean but it is no guarantee. California hospital inspectors, investigating complaints from the public, found that 25 percent of hospitals where conditions were unsanitary had been inspected and accredited by The Joint Commission within the previous year.
Congress has been virtually silent about hospital infections, and no member has shown any interest in improving the situation.