Friday, December 10, 2010

Individual Actions Help Our Patients

With the cold weather here to stay for a while and flu season about to kick into high gear, I want to thank everyone who was immunized against influenza (and thank all our healthcare professionals who worked to administer the vaccines) during the mass vaccination drill in October and throughout the past month. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes that all individuals who work in healthcare facilities need to be immunized against influenza to protect the patients (and themselves). Hospitals nationwide are calling on their staff to make it a priority to get vaccinated against influenza. You can read more about the importance of getting vaccinated on the CDC’s website: or learn more about influenza in general on

And, here’s another great example of individuals doing something to help our patients - hand washing. It’s a proven fact that washing our hands saves lives by preventing the spread of infection. But it must be a conscious decision, a task we are dedicated to doing. When a pilot and copilot of a plane take off without running a checklist, the most likely result is that they will land safely. But, it is their job to ensure the safety of their passengers, and so they run through their checklist before every take off and landing. Doing something as simple as a checklist – or as easy as washing your hands – is the right thing to do to protect those in your care, whether it is a plane full of passengers or a hospital full of patients.

In recognition of National Hand Hygiene Awareness Week you may have seen this message throughout the hospital – Wash in. Wash out. Repeat. The fundamental concept urges everyone to wash their hands, either with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer, before and after entering a patient room.

The NICU staff does this quite well. And so does the staff on Unit 27. In fact, they serve as examples to follow as they achieved 100 percent compliance for hand hygiene in November. The employees on Unit 34 were right behind with compliance rates at 91 percent for November, well above the hospital goal of 70 percent compliance. I commend the staff and the managers of these units for their commitment to our patients’ safety and good health.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to see the hand hygiene video on the Infoweb, I encourage you to check it out:

And, on Thursday, December 9, members of GBMC’s Infection Control department demonstrated just how many germs live on our hands even after we think we have washed them thoroughly.
Employees, physicians, visitors and patients alike tried out Infection Control's Glow Germ and blue light demonstration to see just how clean their hands really were. Many people were surprised at the results! 

Working in healthcare is a calling of service. And when we put our patients first, it’s evidence of our dedication to their safety and to helping others.

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback on how you practice patient safety in your everyday duties.

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