I knew the topic for this week’s Talk Clean To Me blog would be about Hand Hygiene, after all May 5th is World Hand Hygiene Day. I had planned to share links to the hand hygiene videos that I found most entertaining – you know all those videos that facilities have been creating as an entertaining way to get people to realize just how important washing your hand is? The intent behind these are of course to create a clear, compelling and hopefully memorable message that resonates with the viewer so that they will take action and become part of the Clean Hands Coalition.
It would be fun. It would be cute.
This morning I came in as I do each morning, a little earlier than most to have some quiet time and set myself up for the day. As is my morning ritual, I scan the various news feeds and chat groups I follow, read a few articles, and check out what’s going on in the world. This morning, an article popped up from a colleague. It was a heartfelt article about how he almost lost his mom to a Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) infection. It made me realize that fun and cute was not working. Fun and cute, while well intended, was not getting a clear, compelling and memorable message across about the importance of hand hygiene. It made me wonder if we’ve become numb to the stats that are spewed almost daily about HAIs. It made me wonder if we have become too laissez-faire when it comes to hand hygiene and its impact on the health and welfare of those around us. Those that our jobs directly impact and those that our actions can directly harm.
The definition of laissez-faire is the practice or doctrine of non-interference in the affairs of others, especially with reference to individual conduct or freedom of action. How frequently do you tip toe around your colleagues? How frequently have you seen firsthand someone not wash their hands before an aseptic technique? How frequently have your witnessed someone wash their hands only to contaminate them by touching a surface before providing patient care? I know I have. I know that I have kept quiet because I was in the room observing how it was being cleaned but saw firsthand a nurse perform an aseptic technique after her gloves were on and after she had touched numerous surfaces.
I’m Canadian. We’re known to be nice. We’re known to be polite. Perhaps it’s time to change. Perhaps it’s time to drop our laissez-faire attitude and get right up in the face of those you see do something wrong.
Thanks Rick for the heartfelt article. Thanks for being the inspiration to look at things differently. This may not be the most “clear, compelling and memorable” blog I’ve written, but you can be darn sure the next time I see someone not wash their hands and put a patient in risk, I’m going to call you out on it and if I offend you, then so be it! To quote the lyrics of the Dixie Chicks “I’m not ready to be nice, I’m not ready to back down.”