Use of Checklists Can Help Prevent Hospital Infections

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises proper hand washing and hand hygiene procedures to prevent hospital infections.  Medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and others in close contact with the patient must wash their hands before attending to each new patient.  However, in many hospitals around the country, such hand hygiene procedures have become lax, increasing the rate of infections.

Preventing hospitalizations is not a matter of rocket science.  Dr. Peter Pronovost of John Hopkins University developed a checklist which when adhered to, can reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections.  The checklist is currently in place in hospitals across the country, and can help reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections as well as the rate of ICU-related fatalities.  The checklist includes simple steps that nurses and doctors should follow before attending to a patient.  This includes proper hand hygiene, and maintaining sterility of tubes and catheters.

Dr. Peter Pronovost also encourages hospitals to foster a medical safety culture that encourages patients and their families to ask questions of the doctor.  Often, Los Angeles medical malpractice attorneys notice that doctors are treated as demigods, and patients and their families, and even nurses and other healthcare professionals feel unable to question the doctor or challenge him.  That kind of culture, where a physician is placed on a pedestal and considered to be above reproach or question, simply isn’t healthy in a hospital setting.

Besides hygiene and handwashing, infections can spread to many other parts of a doctor’s clothing, including ties, jewelry and long fingernails.  In 2004, a study conducted in New York, found that physician’s ties were contaminated with at least one dangerous microorganism.  In the UK, the national health system has in place a dress code for healthcare professionals that prohibits lab coats, ties, and jewelry.  Doctors and nurses are also prohibited from maintaining long fingernails.

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