DEATH-BY-DOCTOR-- What do you do when it's the doctors, not the patients, who are noncompliant?
Ethic Soup first reported on physicians' noncompliance with hand-washing standards and hospitals' desperate attempts to stop physicians from spreading dangerous hospital infections, in January with the article "Don't kill me doctor: wash your hands."
Physicians STILL do not want to wash their hands -- more than 50 percent do not wash their hands before examining patients or before performing surgery in hospitals. It's unconscionable behavior from those who accept the responsibility and are paid to protect our lives, not put us at-risk of death. What Hippocratic Oath?
Not only do doctors not wash up, but hospitals do not enforce their own standards. They warn, but then do nothing when doctors refuse to comply. In fact, the situation is worse than it was previously. And now, the Joint Commission, which sets standards and accredits hospitals, is finally stepping in with what it claims will be a rigorous approach. Better that than patient rigor mortis later!
KILLING MORE PATIENTS
The lack of hand-washing contributes to infections linked to hospital care that kill almost 100,000 Americans a year, says Dr. Mark Chassin, who leads the Joint Commission.
If the loss of life isn't a strong enough motive to clean up their act, then maybe the $4 billion to $29 billion that it costs annually to combat these infections just might influence those more concerned with the mighty dollar. Of course, the physicians and the hospitals charge the Americans who pay taxes and health insurance premiums.
The Joint Commission has dubbed its new program, the Center for Transforming Health Care, and is funding it through hospitals and other large health care providers. Through collaborative programs with major hospitals and health care systems, the Center says it will find a cause for the most deadly breakdowns in patient care and put a stop to them, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"SECRET SHOPPERS" were used at the eight hospitals which participated in a pilot program. Although trained, the observers were unknown to staff and assigned to observe caregivers going in and out of patient rooms and carefully measure current compliance. Surprising to most hospital administrators, compliance with hand-washing rules were LESS THAN 50 percent, advised Chassen.
Mere hand-washing is deemed vital in health care environments to prevent the spread of potentially-infectious pathogens, such as the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Although the average compliance was under 50 percent, some hospitals had compliance rates as low as 30 percent.
As the New York Times reports: "Other studies have produced comparable figures, and the stories of fatal consequences have become tragically routine."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there are an estimated 1.7 million infection cases annually in hospitals and that 99,000 patients die after contracting them.
ADD SWINE FLUE TO MIX
Now, add into the mix the Swine Flu, aka H1N1 Flu, and the potential hospitalizations from this world pandemic. President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has estimated that H1N1 flu this fall and winter could result in 1.8 million hospitalizations in the U.S. and 30,000 to 90,000 deaths. But I'll bet they did not take into consideration the in-hospital spread of the disease due to lack of handwashing.
Well, what do we have left? Prayer. Pray the hospitals do begin to really do something to curb the in-hospital infections or more and more of us will shuffle off this mortal coil as a result of death-by-doctor.
TO READ "DON'T KILL ME DOCTOR: WASH YOUR HANDS" CLICK HERE.
TO READ "THE DOCTOR POSTS" CLICK HERE.