Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All fish swim in the same water

Before I began the blog, I wrote weekly messages as short letters to the employees, physicians, volunteers, and auxilians of Community General Hospital – to all the members of the CGH family. Hand washing, infection control, and standard precautions have been consistent themes. Here are excepts of past letters that have not been posted as blog entries.

From “All fish swim in the same water,” March 5, 2005
“If you saw a co-worker or someone from another department fail to wash hands, what do you do? Be embarrassed for them? Bite your tongue and say nothing? I suggest that you say something, such as: ‘Excuse me, did you forget to wash your hands? You must have a lot on your mind – just trying to help.’

“The fact is, hand washing is often done privately. Most of the time there is no one to remind us, just a sign (on the wall)…and that little voice in our heads that tells us to do the right thing. All of us who work in health care share the responsibility for keeping our patients and our co-workers safe. That responsibility starts with hand washing….

“In the aquarium all fish swim in the same water. In our world, we breathe the same air and touch the same surfaces. We touch our patients. Hand washing is not something to take for granted.”

From “Why the obsession about hand washing?,” March 19, 2005
“Nationally, statistics show hospital personnel comply with hand washing requirements only 54% of the time. That is shocking. At CGH our compliance last year averaged 90%. That is almost twice the national rate, but it is not good enough. Even a single instance of noncompliance could put an employee or a patient at risk of infection.”

From “A culture of safety,” July 3, 2005
“Last month the State Legislature passed a bill that will require hospitals to report publicly infection rates for surgical wound infections and for bloodstream infections related to central lines in ICU patients…..

“This particular bill received a lot of attention statewide and across the nation, thanks to publicity generated by the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (‘RID’), a non-profit organization that has worked to require the public reporting of hospital infection rates. I wrote to RID earlier this year in support of its efforts…”

From “Not Halloween masks,” October 29, 2005
“As you can see, [hand hygiene] compliance in October is 95%. That sounds great, but consider this as you look around the cafeteria. Of the 99 other people there, who are the five who, on average, fail to wash their hands? When it comes to infection control, we cannot be satisfied with 95% – 100% has to be the goal.”

That's Mitchell Brodey, MD, Hospital Epidemiologist, in the photo, above. Actually, it's a photo of the life-size cutout of Dr. Brodey that makes its way around the hospital to remind everyone at CGH about the importance of hand washing. Dr. Brodey's doppelganger has been "on duty" since September, a companion to the life-size cutout of Sue Chamberlain, RN, CGH's Infection Control Program Director, who has "patrolling" the halls and departments since July.

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