Monday, May 4, 2009

Infection Control Rant

Today Grandma requested that we speak with someone from infection control. They called (while I was out) and she insisted that someone come in person so that we could have a face-to-face conversation, considering all that we have been through. It was a rather interesting experience.

My first question to her was, why do the doctors and nurses only start to wear little protective gowns and gloves AFTER The Boy is found to have the C. Diff or whatever else they implement these protocols for, when it would make lots and lots of sense for them to do the same for him when he is severely neutropenic? Wouldn't it make more sense to try and protect HIM instead of just trying to protect themselves? Her response was that the Centers for Disease Control set the protocols for infection control, and that is what they follow.

My followup question was, why are shoe covers not included in this protocol? She responded that healthcare workers do not frequently touch their shoes and it hasn't been found to be necessary. My response? Patient A throws up on the floor and even though it is cleaned, some germs still find their way onto the shoes of the nurse. Then she goes to see Patient B. The infection control specialist said that she hadn't really thought of that. Seriously? Then we said that even though we have a playmat and we wipe The Boy's hands, it can't be helped that sometimes active toddlers touch the floor. And she responded that at home you have the same problem. Fine...but in our home, visitors always remove their shoes or cover their shoes, no exceptions. She was a little bit convinced that the procedure might need to be different for pediatrics but held fast to her stance: the CDC requires this as a minimum, so that's all we're going to do.

We next discussed the curtain in the front of the room. I hadn't even thought about it until my mother brought it up, but 5 seconds on Google sent me first to this article . As in, didn't take me any time at all to find info indicating that hospital curtains are a problem. The person we spoke with said that the curtains are changed every 30 days. The nurse said that it is supposed to be changed when they clean the room after discharge, but she doesn't know either way whether they do it or not. Hmmm.

My mother brought up the issue of diapers, with the little patients. The diapers have to be weighed because they measure output. But what they do is, they take the wet/dirty diapers out of the room into the "general" public and I can't imagine how that is good for minimizing infection. One of our nurses last week said that it would make all kinds of sense for each patient in diapers to have his own scale in the bathroom. The Boy has his own. For him, it doesn't do much good, but it protects other patients from him, if he has something. The person said that she would look into the diaper procedure.

Overall, we felt like we were talking to a wall. Know how you talk to someone on the phone in customer service and they have a script, and they really can't say much else? That's what we felt like. But I almost felt vindicated, because I felt like it wasn't our imagination that there is something seriously amiss with hospital infection control policy. There really is something the matter, and it comes right from the very people who are supposed to be controlling things.

And, of course, preventative measures are never worth it to those crunching the numbers even though it would save all kinds of money and energy.


Sarah R said...

It really sucks that hospitals are not up to par, in my opinion, as far as infection control goes. Hospitals are dirty places, and they need to go the extra mile to protect their pateints, especially immunocompromised patients like The Boy. I really hope they listen to you so you hopefully don't have to deal with anymore infections...

Heather said...

It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he got the C-Diff while in the hospital. Hospitals are nasty, nasty places and the staff do the minimum necessary to get by. Seriously, shoe covers aren't that hard to put on and take off.