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Does your Doctor or Nurse flunk the hand washing test? You have the right to ask!

If your doctor or nurse scored below fifty percent on a test in school they would flunk. A recent study published in the December 2011 edition of the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology suggests that fewer than fifty percent of doctors and nurses wash their hands between patients. The widespread use of gloves (thought to reduce the risk of infection) may actually make doctors and nurses less likely to wash their hands.

The risk created by the failure to wash hands between patients is obvious-infection can be spread from patient to patient by health care providers. This is a real risk with bacteria like MRSA so prevalent in hospitals and nursing homes.

The study suggests that when doctors and nurses use gloves they wash their hands even less frequently than when they do not wear gloves. The problem created by this false sense of security is that bacteria on the outside of gloves can be snapped back onto the bare hand when the gloves are removed. If the contaminated hands are not washed or disinfected, bacteria can be transmitted to the next patient.

Be an active participant in your health care. Be informed. You have the right to ask your health care provider to wash their hands before they take care of you, whether they wear gloves or not.

If you, a friend, or family member develops a hospital-acquired infection due to lack of sanitary conditions or there was a delay in diagnosis and treatment of an infection, contact McKeen & Associates, P.C.; we will review your information and advise you on your legal rights.

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