Ms. Dowd relayed a personal story about her brother who suffered from hospital acquired infections and ultimately died from them. She told of trying to be liked by the hospital staff in hopes they would take better care of her brother. One doctor, she recalled, told her the infections could be from ties and other (pointless) clothing that dangled near the patient and that often bore infectious bacteria. The doctor who told her this was wearing a tie. And it draped across her brother as he spoke of it. “Why?” Ms Dowd wondered, “do you wear a tie?” The doctor just shrugged.
Today, just a few years later, studies have proven that ties, lab coats and other such dangling clothing items are major sources of infectious pathogens. Four years ago, the British health care system initiated a “bare below the elbow” requirement that bans ties, lab coats, jewelry and other such items.
But loose clothing wasn’t the point of Ms. Dowd’s article. She spoke of the need and challenge for patients to speak up. We know doctors and nurses are supposed to wash their hands before they treat us. Still, we frequently fail to ask them to wash when they come in our room (or in the room of a loved one). We don’t want to be pushy. We don’t want to appear difficult. Above all, we don’t want to alienate the people we depend upon so much for important care.
But we should be pushy. Patients who are actively involved in their own health care have a statistically demonstrable increase in the likelihood of a positive outcome (as we’ve written about here before). Doctors and nurses are people, just like us. They’re going to have bad days. They’re going to get lazy and inattentive. And they probably won’t like being questioned and held to an exacting standard. But if you want to avoid being the patient who suffers from their momentary lapse then you had better be the patient who makes them wash their hands when they walk in your room; who double checks the medication they want to put in your IV; and who constantly asks questions and holds them to their answers.
We Want To Help
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury as a result of a medical mistake in northwest Pennsylvania, we’d like to know about it. If our Pennsylvania medical malpractice investigation reveals that the injury was avoidable and was caused by medical negligence or carelessness, we’ll help your family to get the compensation the law requires. For a free consultation with an Erie medical malpractice lawyer, call toll free 814-273-2010 or locally at 814-273-2010.