But hand hygiene concerns go beyond health care professionals. Patients can also get infections from family and friends who visit, and from not following good hand hygiene practices themselves. And here patients do have a role: I’m totally supportive of having patients ask (demand) that visitors wash hands. Patients should also make sure they’re doing all they can with their own hygiene. Hospitals have a role, too, in educating patients and visitors and providing reminders.
It’s notoriously hard to improve health care provider compliance with best hand hygiene practices and it’s awkward for patients to have to be the hall monitors. But maybe the road to better compliance by doctors and nurses is for patients to be more conscious about their own hygiene and that of their visitors.