Washing hands should be one of the most important habits, especially in the medical field. Unfortunately, the real situation looks different. After a recent survey, it was discovered that when they are not supervised, nurses and doctors usually neglect hand hygiene.
Over 100 years ago, people would frequently die in hospitals because a virus was transmitted from patient to patient. However, the epidemic stopped when one of the doctors discovered that the source of the infection was the fact that doctors did not wash their hands after treating patients.
It meant that the risk of passing deadly infections throughout the hospital was abnormally high. Paradoxically the ones to blame were the doctors who had the duty of saving others. Nowadays the situation has significantly improved.
However, based on a social experiment from the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, it was established that some doctors and nurses do not wash their hands properly. Therefore, the real problem is human behavior which proves to be very hard to change.
According to Maricris Niles, MA, infection prevention analyst at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, California, the statistics have shown that hand hygiene behavior is influenced by the Hawthorne Effect.
When people are aware that they are being watched, they change their behavior by improving one of its aspects depending on the activity. This behavior change is called the Hawthorne Effect.
According to Susan Dolan, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, hand hygiene is doctor’s best bet to tackle the spread of any infection. However, it seems one of the hardest aspects to improve.
At the end of the experiment, the data has shown that one of the observed units showed a 50 percent improvement in hand-washing, whereas the other groups experienced an increase of at least 11 percent.
According to Dr. Clifford McDonald, CDC associate director for science, healthcare people who work in the intensive care unit might need to wash their hands around 100 times in eight hours to make sure that no infection spreads in the hospital.
Furthermore, he advises patients not to be ashamed of asking doctors and nurses to wash their hands well before assisting them with any treatment.
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