Step #4 TakeCHARGE 5 Steps to Safer Health Care
Next week is the final week for the 2021 TakeCHARGE Campaign’s Step #4: Ask your caregivers to wash their hands and help stop the spread of infection. In the last two weeks I asked two clinicians to wash. They were not thrilled with my request. Once was on behalf of a patient and the clinician said she did…… blah blah — but did again. The other said, “ I did, but do you want to see me wash?” I said I did, because when she had come out into the waiting room to get me, I noticed she touched the door and door knobs, and just felt better if she did it again. She did it again too. It’s not comfortable asking, but if we all did, maybe they would just do it. It’s actually easier for me each time, and though I often offer Twizzlers or lollipops as a gift for washing, in this case I didn’t.
Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education and Advocacy has been saying this for the past 25 years. I started this when my now adult children were in elementary school and as PTA Chair of Health and Safety, I recommended that all children should be asked if, before lunch they wanted to wash their hands. I was told by the school principal that they could not “make” children wash. I never said they should be ordered to wash, only suggested that if they wanted to (because it was the family rule), they could. Still the answer was “no” even though the PTA was supportive. It took a phone call to a state assemblyperson to have that policy changed, but by that time I was disgusted with the refusal of permission for children to wash their hands. One excuse offered was that it would take too much time.
Fast forward to this past year. Let’s not forget what we have gone through and besides masks, handwashing has been a priority. This is not rocket science. If we are spreading germs at home and in the grocery store, the bank and public transportation, you can bet it’s happening in doctors’ offices and hospitals – and killing people there.
Ilene Corina, BCPA, President Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy firstname.lastname@example.org