Entering a hospital you are faced with sanitizers. It`s common knowledge that washing your hands is a barrier to germs. But what about the scrubs the medical staff wears?
While you would expect hospital attire to be clean the truth is it is carrying germs right to a patient`s bed. And those germs can be as deadly as the illnesses that brought a person into the medical center to begin with.
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) causes almost a half a million people a year in the United States to fall ill. At the University of Maryland hospital staffers confessed that many don`t bother to change their lab coats more than once a week. That`s a week`s worth of germs carried around the medical center and often out to eat.
Staph can live on polyester coats for 56 days.
Until 20 years ago hospitals throughout the United States cleaned their staff`s scrubs. Now some medical centers are returning to that policy.
In Saint Louis, Mo. when St. Mary`s Health Center started giving their staff laundered scrubs cesarean birth infection rates were lowered by 50%.
There is a near zero hospital-acquired infection rate at Monroe Hospital in Bloomington, Ind. If you guessed that the hospital foots the bill for clean scrubs you`d be correct.
Saint Michael`s Hospital in Toronto provides the staff with scrubs.
In Britain the British National Health Service is providing nurses with `smart scrubs.`These garments have short sleeves because long sleeves have been proven to spread germs from patient to patient.
In a British study more than 20 per cent of nurse’s uniforms had C. diff on them. The germ can cause extreme diarrhea, dehydration, inflammation of the colon, and even death.
Hospitals are crawling with the germ. C. diff is spread when traces of an infected person`s feces get into another person`s mouth. Touching anything in a hospital without washing your hands puts a person at risk for the infection.
The germ is also difficult to control outside of hospital walls. It`s not called a Superbug without reason. The germ is difficult to kill. Standard cleansers don`t do the trick.
At Case Western Reserve and the Cleveland Veterans Administration Medical Center researchers found that even after standard cleaning 78 percent of surfaces still had C. diff on them.
Now consider the quick swipe that your local diner gives a table. Do you see medical employees there eating lunch? In their scrubs?
I think I`ll pass on that sandwich now.