Louis Pasteur must be turning over in his grave. More than 145 years ago, he introduced the theory that germs existed and carried diseases, and dirty instruments and hands spread germs and therefore disease.
And here it is today, more than 145 years later and doctors are still not washing their hands before seeing patients even though it only takes 30 seconds to cut your risk for catching contagious diseases by 51 percent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, washing your hands is the single most important way to avoid spreading infection and if everyone made it a regular habit, one million deaths a year would be prevented.
Hand hygiene among doctors is even worse, with 73 percent of pediatric ICU physicians claiming that they soaped up between patients, but when the MDs were secretly observed, only 10 percent actually washed. If doctors and nurses were more diligent about hand hygiene, up to 80,000 American lives would be saved each year.
Experts caution patients to ask healthcare providers a simple question before any hands-on exam: “Did you wash your hands?” That’s important even if the provider is wearing gloves, reports Texas Health Resources Infection Control.
A Centers for Disease Control survey found that 40 million Americans a year fall prey to illnesses spread by hands, which can harbor up to 500,000 bacteria per square centimeter. Of that percentage, how many of those people visit doctors who don’t wash their hands before examining you?
I remember a pediatrician who washed his hands before and after examining every patient. He even used a nail brush each time. But in all my years of going to doctors, I have never seen even one doctor wash his hands before seeing his adult patients in the office or in the hospital. I’m sure they are out there somewhere, but I’ve never seen one.
Several years ago, I was in the hospital for a fever of unknown origin. Doctors in just about every field came to examine me and not one of them washed his hands. The chief of the Infectious Diseases Department didn’t wash her hands, nor did the physician whose practice was limited to Infectious Diseases who treated me in the hospital and later as an outpatient.
I have long thought that patients who survive illnesses often do so in spite of their doctors, not because of them