Sunday, June 29, 2008

Basic Hygiene

I was combing through the health section on when I came across an article titled Don't Let a Hospital Kill You,
which offers tips on how to avoid hospital acquired infections which kills about 100,000 Americans every year. I have been aware of this problem for a while, but even I was shocked at the matter-of-fact attitude of the author, Elizabeth Cohen, a CNN health correspondent. However, I was mostly disgusted by the lack of common sense, decency, and basic hygiene in American health clinics.

tip # 4:

Ask where that syringe has been

"Doctors offices sometimes reuse syringes -- it's unusual, but it happens ."

This sentence is a little too nonchalant. Its like saying, "Sometimes times I kill people and bury them in my back yard-- its unusual, but it happens."

"WTF?! its "unusual"?! Let me give you some examples of appropriate forms of the word unusual: Its unusual for me to skip breakfast in the morning. Its unusual for me not to check my myspace for a week. Its unusual for Chris to put his dirty clothes in the clothes hamper. Its unusual for George Bush to give a speech with out botching it. All of these are unusual. So, CNN, let me rephrase that sentence for you.

"Doctors offices sometimes reuse syringes -- it's fucked up, but it happens ."

The article goes on to explain that...
"there have been 14 documented outbreaks of hepatitis since 1999 because of reused syringes. The recent outbreak in Nevada, where 50,000 people will be notified that they might have been infected at a colonoscopy clinic, is one example.

It's not an easy question to ask, but when someone's heading at you with a syringe, ask if this is the first time it's been used.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health, suggests phrasing it like this: "I read in the paper that some doctors are reusing syringes. I can't imagine anyone would do that.Do you?"

More pressure needs to be put on health care providers to follow basic hygiene. American's pay nearly $3 trillion a year on health care, the care we receive should reflect that, but often expensive care doesn't mean better care.

So watch keep your head on a swivel in a doctors office, make them open a new syringe in front of you, write your representatives and let them know that it is unacceptable for 100,000 people to die every year because of hospital acquired infections that can be prevented by following basic hygiene standards.

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