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Doctors, please wash your hands every time you check another Patient.

Our doctors in India care very little about ‘hand hygiene’ in their hospitals. In government hospitals this seems to be a remote concept, although the proper facilities – gloves, water and trained staff – are available.

                           One key factor and a main cause of the superbug crisis is the failure of medical staff to wash their hands and their gloves between patient checks. Most senior doctors in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Kutch demonstrate a very low level of hand-hygiene awareness.

I have personally observed the harrowing case of a poor farmer in Kutch who had to have his MRSA- infected leg amputated after the compounder and the nurses on duty had overruled basic hand-hygiene procedures.

Senior doctors and surgeons should insist that each member of staff always washes her or his hands properly between treating patients. Such instructions are rare in most of the hospitals in Kutch and I have never seen them given during several visits to a number of hospitals in the area. Perhaps these procedures no longer form part of common practice or the staff concerned has received no warnings or instructions from government health officials.

It is high time that the patients or their carers demand that doctors, nurses and the compounders wash their hands before touching them. It is very important. Furthermore medical staff and the public should use different hand-rubs, which will surely help to reduce the number of infections.

Otherwise the chances are that a patient going for a routine operation could end up losing a leg or another limb due to an infection for which they are not responsible.

In some hospitals I have seen cleaners mopping lavatories and then coming to the patient’s room to change the sheets and pillow-cases without ever washing their hands. I have seen cleaners using the same mop- pad and water in a number of patients’ rooms without bothering to change the water or to clean or replace the pad. What sort of hygiene is this? Could my senior doctors running those hospitals on good income give me the answer? This is merely carelessness that affects the health of the patients at large.

Improving hand hygiene is more important than cleaning the wards or the rooms.

During my recent visit to London Hospitals, I have noticed that the Department of Health lays great emphasis on hand hygiene procedures, and this has significantly reduced infection rates and saved several lives. I have observed nurses on a paediatric ward washing their hands around four times in an hour while I was amazed to see the nurses in the ICU washing their hand nearly every five to ten minutes.

But when I am in local hospitals in India and try to talk with doctors, nurses and compounders, they think I must be joking or just exclaim “That is London . . . We can’t do that in India as we can’t afford to do that, we don’t have that much time and finally, “We are not paid like those people in London” That is how it is.

It is the medical staff of the hospitals in Gujerat and especially Kutch who are the doctors in the absence of the qualified medical practitioner and carry out all the treatments with the patient except diagnosis. The compounders of some doctors try to behave as if they are the main doctors in charge and know everything.

Most of the patients in such hospitals are elderly or poor who are unable to challenge such medical staff.

Doctors while being awarded their Degree take the Hippocratic Oath not to harm patients in any way. Yet by not maintaining hand hygiene in their hospitals, they are surely harming patients.

The hundreds of healthcare-associated infections every year cause 10% of deaths and nearly 25% of the problems with side effects.

The Health Department of Gujerat should consider carefully the status of hospitals. For example those awarded a higher grade should have properly trained staff and ensure that all hygiene procedures are carried out without exception. Hospitals should be given a new notice on ‘Hand-wash Hygiene’ and ensure it is distributed, understood and acted upon.

Toilets and basins should be cleaned regularly, while rooms and the corridors must be kept free of infection. The surmounting of the hospital should be always clean. We should not take chances with the health of human beings on whom the said doctors survive.

We have no objection of doctors making lot of money in their profession but we do have objections in doctors overlooking or at some extend avoiding maintenance of cleanliness in their hospitals. We have nothing against their assistants and the other employed persons but we ask for the trained staff that could look after the cleanliness of the hospital properly and serve the patients properly.



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