Let's Get Back to the Basics We All Learned (or should have)
Posted Nov 03 2008 9:02pm
As I’ve mentioned here a few times before, my nursing school experience occurred in the mid-to-late 1960s. Back then, a list of duties expected of a nurse 40 years before our time would occasionally surface. My classmates and I would hoot and holler over the absurdity of all the things required of a nurse that had nothing at all to do with nursing—such as janitorial duties. We chuckled about it but also thanked our lucky stars that we were being educated in a more enlightened era without all those ridiculous rules.
Now I wonder if today’s students and recent graduates look back at the 60s and think some of the rules we had to follow were just as unreasonable. Yes, we were required to keep our nails clipped short and our hair had to be off our collars (the guys’ too), either pinned up or cut short. Believe me, those mandates, as well as the one banning the wearing of fragrances, were enforced!
I recently learned of a patient who contracted a near-fatal infection while in the hospital for a routine surgical procedure. Because of her bad experience, she has taken it upon herself to promote safeguards that will help curb the incidence of hospital-acquired infections. I was surprised—shocked would be a better word—to read that she encouraged health care workers to tie back long hair, clip nails short and, as a courtesy to patients, to not wear colognes in the work setting.
What? I thought those three things were set-in-stone must-dos. Obviously this patient witnessed situations that would indicate that is not the case. Are such simple safeguards no longer being stressed in schools of nursing and in hospitals?
There is constant publicity about hospital-acquired infections being on the rise and the increasingly virulent and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that cause them. Could laxity on the part of health care workers regarding what amounts to the ABCs of presenting oneself for patient care be a large part of the problem? Are medical personnel choosing to ignore what they were taught? Are hospital supervisors reluctant to risk upsetting their employees by calling them to task? Remember the old adage, ‘there are rules for a reason?’ I vote for getting back to basics.