Actual Letter to a Medical Practice
Written and submitted by Ilen Corina www.gnanow.org/advocates/ilenecorina
Could This Letter Be Going to Your Medical Practice?
(Names have been removed)
Dear Office Manager,
I am writing this letter with much regret. As a professional patient advocate, I have accompanied many people to their medical appointments and hospitalizations. I have visited your facility numerous times throughout the years with clients, family members and for my own medical care. I have put off writing this letter hoping each time, that practices would change.
It seems handwashing is just not part of the standard of care at this practice.
When a patient is brought into the room and blood pressure is checked and the patient is being prepared to see the doctor, the medical staff have touched doorknobs, the clipboard, the computer and then the patient. When I ask them to wash their hands before touching the patient, I am told “I did already”.
Following the care given to the patient, I wipe down the patient’s skin, myself hoping to remove any germs being spread. Most recently, after checking my own vitals, the young woman opened the garbage pail (which has a foot pedal) with her hand, and then left the room using the doorknob. Often this kind of thing happens so fast, a patient doesn’t have time to react.
When another young woman came into the room and immediately washed, I thanked her, and she said she did so because she remembered me asking last time.
I believe that handwashing in front of the patient is as much about trust and respect as it is about cleanliness. If you do not wash in front of me, or use hand sanitizer, you obviously don’t respect me, so how can I possibly trust you? After all. Isn’t this one of the first things medical staff learn?
Though your staff are not alone in their poor hygiene practices, they seem to be consistently unsatisfactory in all the medical visits I attend with patients.
According to the CDC, in a healthcare setting, staff are expected to use an Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer immediately before touching a patient. This seems like simple, respectful behavior.
I would like to know how I can be assured that I will not have to be asking your staff to practice appropriate hand hygiene were I to continue using your facility for my own medical care and accompanying others for theirs. I look forward to your response.
Ilene Corina, BCPA