When people don't feel well, they see a doctor. They probably assume that the doctor will not spread anything to them to make them sicker. Ohio residents may be disturbed to find out that hygiene in hospitals is not as high of a priority as one would expect.
Hospital-acquired infections are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. A 2004 study done by the American College of Physicians found that only 57 percent of doctors washed their hands when they were supposed to. The study also showed that the busier the doctor was and the more patients needing to be examined, the less likely the doctor was to engage in proper hand washing.
Many attempts have been made to address these statistics and encourage medical personnel to wash their hands. One hospital's recent attempt at addressing the problem was written about by The New York Times. The hospital installed cameras by every sink or hand sanitizer in a section of the hospital. The employees knew about the cameras, yet only 6.5 percent of medical personnel washed their hands within 10 seconds of entering or leaving a room.
The next thing the hospital tried was installing light boards showing the compliance rates along with words of encouragement. After the signs were installed, 81.6 percent of medical personnel washed their hands within 10 seconds of entering or leaving a room. The compliance percentage increased to 87.9 percent after the light boards were in place for over a year. The experiment showed that people will wash their hands more regularly when they know for sure that they are being watched.
Another recent incentive is that Medicare stopped reimbursing hospitals for treating patients suffering from hospital-acquired infections in 2008. Treating a patient for a hospital-acquired infection can cost upward of $15,000.
The concern over the spread of disease in a hospital setting has come to the forefront for most hospital administrators. Fortunately, more hospitals are now willing to invest time and money into efforts to ensure their medical personnel are taking the necessary steps for good hygiene.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a hospital through neglect or a medical error, contact a medical malpractice attorney for an assessment of your case.