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Patient advocacy: hand washing

February 13, 2013
By CARYLE REGAN, RN - Parish Nurse for St. John’s , Pine Island Eagle

Did you know that the average number of people you come into contact with during the average hospital stay is something around 50 people. This is counting nurses, doctors, cleaning staff, volunteers, techs, visitors and etc. Surprised? So were the folks at Lee Memorial when they did the survey years ago.

An infection that is acquired while in a hospital or other health care facility it call a nosocomial infection. This type of infection is usually transmitted by direct contact between health care personal and patients, or visitors and patients, or patient and patient. Remember, folks go to hospitals because they are sick and they bring the bugs with them.

To protect yourself from this type of infection, you must be proactive about hand washing. You must require everyone who enters your room to wash their hands. If you are taken out of your room for a procedure, or a test, require personal to wash their hands before they start the procedure or touch you.

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Family members, friends, caretakers, be proactive. Put a sign up in front of your loved ones room saying "Do not touch until hands are washed." If your loved one can't speak for themselves, be radical, if you are not in the room, put a sign on your loved one saying "Wash hands first, Touch me second."

You ask, shouldn't medical staff already be doing this? Emphatically, yes, but they do not do it. Should you encounter someone who is uncooperative about hand washing, report them to the nursing supervisor. You will be helping not only your loved one, but, most probably another patient as well.



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