You might have noticed it when you’re doing your rounds on the ward – some nurse, probably new, tending to a patient before moving onto the next one without washing their hands.
Amongst newer employees, it can be tempting to avoid effective hygiene in favour of time-saving. But in doing so they’re compromising the safety of patients and staff. Indeed, as major viruses like Ebola move across the western world, a lack of cleanliness could have dire consequences.
Just imagine the chain. You examine a patient, covering yourself in their germs in the process, a million miniscule microbes multiplying on your skin at an alarming rate. Then, you tend to someone else. The chain of disgust expands as more people grow sicker and sicker.
But simply washing your hands can be the difference between an outbreak and a stemming of the flow.
Now comes the real question – how do you enforce effective hand hygiene all across your hospital?
High-tech hand hygiene
One solution to the problem is simple – shame your employees into cleanliness.
US company Biovigil has made it its goal to embarrass hospital staff into washing their hands. Using a badge to detect cleanliness routines, their product flashes red when doctors and nurses move into new wards.
Once the employee has washed their hands, however, they simply wave it in front of the badge, which detects the scent of antibacterial soap and lights green to symbolise cleanliness.
Other hospitals have opted for simple, motion activated holograms to remind people to wash up. They’ve proven effective – the eye is naturally drawn to the movement of a hologram, far more so than a dull as dishwater sink.
Cleaning areas to admire
However, it’s no good shaming employees if your cleaning areas aren’t up to scratch. Hygiene services are a vital part of any hospital, acting as the first battlement in the fight against bad germs.
Numerous companies have made headway in this area, stocking up washrooms and hygiene areas with antibacterial products and designing areas appealing enough to make washing your hands feel like less of a chore.
Yet, all these attempts at hand hygiene could be the only defence against the hospital’s most recent blight, superbugs. Roaming through hospitals like demons in a horror movie, these viruses have proved resilient against traditional antibiotics and have been making life nightmarish for hygiene experts.
The proliferation of these bugs in hospitals has even provoked calls for a return to the simplistic wards of the Victorian age, wherein hygiene was even more meticulous than today.
Ultimately, the world of good hygiene and germ prevention relies on one major factor – common sense.
If doctors and nurses lack the wherewithal to wash up, they are NOT doing their job properly. So make sure you act if you see someone avoiding the sink.