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Handwashing and MRSA

Handwashing is very important in the prevention of hospital acquired infections, to include MRSA. But, it is not the silver bullet for prevention. Even if it was, only about 40% of health care givers are compliant. I see two problems with this. The first one is noncompliance should not ever be a problem or an issue. It is time, with the current rising numbers of HA infections to mandate compliance or dish out some sort of punishment. It is one of the simplest, most basic methods of infection control there is. My parents taught me the basics of handwashing when I was just a toddler. It simply should not be tolerated if nurses, doctors, techs, and other Health care workers do not wash their hands between patient contacts. It is just plain ignorant. Fine them, reprimand them and if that doesn’t work FIRE THEM! Remember, I am a nurse and I am saying this. Dirty hands are now like a loaded gun. The germs dirty hands can carry are lethal and deadly and we cannot tolerate dirty hands.
Next, although handwashing is paramount in infection control, it is not enough. CDC and most hospitals have been hanging their infection control hats on handwashing alone for too many years. MRSA spreads to patients on contaminated hands (number one method of transfer), on contaminated clothing, on environmental objects, in the air if a patient who has respiratory MRSA coughs within 4 feet of you, and on medical instruments. An unclean stethescope can bring MRSA to you. As can a nurses hair dangling over you while he/she changes your “sterile” dressing, or puts in an IV or catheter.
I saw a sneezing ,coughing nurse (with no mask) caring for Dad while he suffered from MRSA pneumonia. If he hadn’t already been sick with MRSA, maybe she could have given it to him. I saw a nurse pick somthing sticky off the bottom of her shoe and then without washing her hands, attend to my mother after her recent surgery. I saw a nurse drop a blanket to the floor and then pick it up and turn it over for my mother to sit on. I saw a bed moved from the ICU in Dad’s hospital and put in the place of Dad’s after he was moved into ICU. They did this without first cleaning the space Dad had been in. No wonder they have a problem with MRSA in that hospital.
So, handwashing is good and necessary. But, Isolating infected patients, using handwashing AND the appropriate precations with gloves, gowns and masks, and decontamination of the patients surroundings and equipment is what is necessary each and every time to prevent spreading germs such as MRSA.
Other important things are…HCWs should not be wearing hair that hangs over her shoulders and around her face when she is caring for patients. The old nuns at my nursing school were very strict about that and they were right. “Hair off the collar girls”……I can hear the nuns now. We caught the wrath of those nuns if we had dirty shoe laces!
Sterile fields for dressing changes, IV insertions, and urinary catheters are a must. Caregivers should not be allowed to have fake or long painted nails, numerous clunky rings, dangling jewelry , or exposed bellies and upper derrieres with exposed ‘crackage’(belly shirts and hip huggers anyone?). Sick nurses with coughing and sneezing should not be caring for vulnerable patients. If it is absolutly necessary, they should wear a mask during each patient contact along with the other necessary barriers and strict hand washing.
So, yes, wash your hands before touching me or my vulnerable family members. And encourage and remind me to wash my hands too. If I am a patient and I wash my hands regularly, there is less contamination of my immediate environment and any contamination that might be brought to me can be washed away.
I am a tolerant and pretty understanding person. But I will never understand why so many educated nurses, doctors, and othe HCWs find it so difficult to grasp the importance of precautions, asepsis and cleanliness. Please if any of you ever take care of me, at least wash your hands and wear clean clothes every day. Skip the ties and fake nails and keep me safe.

  1. Charitra Gurung
    January 22nd, 2010 at 06:07 | #1

    Thank you very much for this article. It is really true and definitely this will be a lesson and inspiration for the millions of people who will read this article. I am recently doing a research about the handwashing for MRSA (its my college project work)and I was researching in the website from last week. Your article is the most appropriate and inspiring for me. Thank you very much once again. I am extremely sorry for your father and he must be proud of you.

  2. October 22nd, 2011 at 01:58 | #2

    I don’t know how you do this but this blog is a mine of information and of interesting opinions.

  3. October 22nd, 2011 at 15:17 | #3

    so… facebook recommended me the pages “food” and “eating” ,,, yeah I’m obese|HasmAttack|

  4. October 24th, 2011 at 21:51 | #4

    It is the blog that helps to develop oneself. Well done!

  5. November 11th, 2011 at 20:32 | #5

    Thank you so much for the useful advice! I wish more people read this.

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