January 08, 2009
'Hospital Scrubs Are a Germy, Deadly Mess' — by Betsy McCaughey
Her Opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal got my attention; it follows.
- Hospital Scrubs Are a Germy, Deadly Mess
Bacteria on doctor uniforms can kill you.
You see them everywhere — nurses, doctors and medical technicians in scrubs or lab coats. They shop in them, take buses and trains in them, go to restaurants in them, and wear them home. What you can't see on these garments are the bacteria that could kill you.
Dirty scrubs spread bacteria to patients in the hospital and allow hospital superbugs to escape into public places such as restaurants. Some hospitals now prohibit wearing scrubs outside the building, partly in response to the rapid increase in an infection called "C. diff." A national hospital survey released last November warns that Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections are sickening nearly half a million people a year in the U.S., more than six times previous estimates.
The problem is that some medical personnel wear the same unlaundered uniforms to work day after day. They start their shift already carrying germs such as C.diff, drug-resistant enterococcus or staphylococcus. Doctors' lab coats are probably the dirtiest. At the University of Maryland, 65% of medical personnel confess they change their lab coat less than once a week, though they know it's contaminated. Fifteen percent admit they change it less than once a month. Superbugs such as staph can live on these polyester coats for up to 56 days.
Do unclean uniforms endanger patients? Absolutely. Health-care workers habitually touch their own uniforms. Studies confirm that the more bacteria found on surfaces touched often by doctors and nurses, the higher the risk that these bacteria will be carried to the patient and cause infection.
Until about 20 years ago, nearly all hospitals laundered scrubs for their staff. A few hospitals are returning to that policy. St. Mary's Health Center in St. Louis, Mo., reduced infections after cesarean births by more than 50% by giving all caregivers hospital-laundered scrubs, as well as requiring them to wear two layers of gloves. Monroe Hospital in Bloomington, Ind., which has a near-zero rate of hospital-acquired infections, provides laundered scrubs for all staff and prohibits them from wearing scrubs outside the building. Stamford Hospital in Connecticut recently banned wearing scrubs outside the hospital.
Across the pond, a British study found that one-third of medical personnel did not launder their uniforms before coming to work. One British surgeon who specializes in hip and knee replacements reduced postoperative infections by two-thirds at her hospital by protecting patients from contaminated uniforms. Before approaching any patient's bed, nurses put on disposable, clear plastic aprons that were pulled off rolls like dry cleaning bags. Each one costs a nickel.
In response to this evidence and public outrage over infections, the cash-strapped British National Health Service is providing nurses with hospital-laundered "smart scrubs." The smart design includes short sleeves, because long sleeves spread germs from patient to patient.
The new British policy will protect patients and prevent superbugs from being carried outside hospitals. In one study, more than 20% of nurses' uniforms had C. diff on them at the end of a shift. The germ can cause extreme diarrhea, dehydration, inflammation of the colon, and even death.
In a hospital, C. diff contaminates virtually every surface. It spreads when traces of an infected person's feces get in another person's mouth. Patients who touch objects in their room and then eat without washing their hands unknowingly swallow the germ. Many otherwise healthy patients who go into the hospital for elective surgery, such as hip replacement, have contracted C. diff and died.
Outside the hospital, C. diff is also difficult to control. It isn't killed by laundry detergents or most cleaners. Researchers at Case Western Reserve and the Cleveland Veterans Administration Medical Center found that even after routine cleaning, 78% of surfaces still had C. diff. Only scrubbing with bleach removed it. That's not the kind of cleaning restaurants are prepared to do after serving hospital workers.
Imagine sliding into a restaurant booth after a nurse has left the germ on the table or seat. You could easily pick it up on your hands and then swallow it with your sandwich. Hospitals should provide workers with clean uniforms and prohibit wearing them in public.
Ms. McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York state, is a fellow at the Hudson Institute and chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.
I will try to do better in the future when it comes to wearing scrubs outside the hospital.
Why is it here?
Because its name made me laugh.
I'm totally in love with specialized devices — the more outré, the better.
From the website:
- Cheese Gripper
Handle money-saving block cheese easily.
Plastic gripper (5¾"L x 2¼"W) with stainless steel guards protects fingertips when grating or slicing.
Earthmine — 'indexing reality'
[via Dean Kaltsas, who described it as "Google Streetview on steroids"]
Electric Bath Duck — 'One use only'
"Please make sure
you have made the right decision."
Thunderbox — 'Flush this book'
Here's Ian Mckay's recent "Sold@auction" blog post from finebooksmagazine.com:
- Flush This Book
Using the form of a book to disguise an entirely different function, or to hide something away, is nothing new — think of money boxes, for example. But book as bathroom?
It does not seem an obvious use for an old binding, but this traveling commode might have appealed to Apthorpe, the obsessive officer in Evelyn Waugh’s novel, "Men at Arms." Apthorpe, some readers may recall, owned an Edwardian field latrine, a so-called "thunderbox" that came to a comic and explosive end. The example seen in New York [top], by contrast, survived relatively unscathed since the 18th century. It sold for $1,800 in a Bloomsbury New York auction, September 17-18, 2008.
Two of its supporting walls are the blind-tooled calf-over-oak-board covers of a large folio volume that advertises itself on the red morocco label to be an Historia Universalis. Closed, it looks just like any other large old folio, but in times of need oaken boards fold out to form a closed square, or lift up to provide a seat in which a chamber pot could be placed. The whole thunderbox, perhaps intended for use on a military campaign by someone of rank, rests on four small wooden pegs and the sides formed by the binding are further protected at the foot by small brass plates. The wooden seat is cracked, the chamber pot itself long gone, and the binding seen some restoration, but have you ever seen another thunderbox of this age and grandeur, let alone one with such literary reverberations?
In a word: no.
USB Digital Holy Bible Key Chain — Episode 2: New and Improved
But how, joe, how could the Bible possibly have been improved since it was digitalized into keychain form 3+ plus years ago?
I'm glad you asked that question.
Consider that the 2009 edition — unlike 2005's — is not just PC- but also Mac-compatible.
And that it contains not only the English version (King James) but also the Spanish (Reina Valera).
"Hidden USB interface plug slides out of the Bible and inserts directly into your computer."
Thank you, Brother Kerzner, for the news that the website offering Episode 1's iteration had gone dead, and for the new site.
It's a miracle.
bookofjoe archives kerfuffle
I became aware this past Tuesday that my Archives feature has changed — and not in a good way.
Long back story short: Last month TypePad announced that on December 18, 2008, changes would occur behind the scenes that might require bloggers to do technical stuff to keep their archives functioning properly.
Me and my crack technical engineer Phillip Winn — yes, that Phillip Winn, Chief Geek for BlogCritics Magazine — decided to cross our collective fingers and hope maybe we could get away with doing nothing.
That worked fine for nearly three weeks but as I noted above, two days ago the archival chickens came home to roost and things went south.
Our team of skilled programmers and computer wizards is diligently laboring behind the scenes as you read these words to get things back up to speed.
Thank you for your support.
joe Bartles & Phillip Jaymes for bookofjoe.
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.