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Doctors not making the grade in hand washing

WINNIPEG-A report released Wednesday by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), identifies how hygienic it’s doctors, nurses and health care aids hands are at Winnipeg hospitals.

The monitoring system began in 2012, and overall numbers have increased from 54 per cent to 72 per cent. That’s below the 80 per cent compliance goal set by the WRHA.

When monitoring hand washing in hospitals started in 2012, 28 per cent of Winnipeg physicians washed their hands to see a patient, now that statistic is 66 per cent.

The worst and only hospital to fall under the 50 per cent marker: Concordia Hospital. It had a score of 38 per cent. That’s a drop from 81 per cent the previous quarter.

The best hospital for physicians lathering up: Victoria Hospital with 84 per cent, higher than the WRHA’s goal.

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The WRHA’s president and CEO Arlene Wilgosh isn’t sure why compliance is so low among doctors, “I have talked to a lot of doctors and they can’t actually say to me why the physician numbers are the way they are.”

Those visiting Concordia Hospital Wednesday were bothered by the report, but not always surprised. “I’ve been in the hopsital many times and never once have I seen them wash their hands,” Myrtle Downie said Wednesday.

“It is kinda disturbing when you think that kind of disease transmission can happen, just because people are being careless,” Bruce Burron said.

The report is also startling to pharmacist Ryan Chan. He says, poor hygiene can cause illnesses to spread immediately.

“It’s an instant transfer. It’s like having ink on you, you press something else, that ink automatically spreads instantly, that’s how quick it can transfer,” Chan explained. “The downfall with individuals in the hospital, their immune system is kinda weakened to begin with, so they have a greater risk of getting sick.”

The WRHA says it will continue to monitor hand-washing hygiene compliance, but says the patient should also feel comfortable, asking their health care provider to make sure their hands are clean.

“I’m not saying it’s up to the patient, its the physician’s responsibility,” said Wilgosh. “But I think the patient should feel safe to ask that question, ‘I didn’t see you wash your hands, do you mind washing your hands?'”

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The WRHA says it is working with staff to let them know if they see a particular physician, nurse, health care aid not washing their hands, to bring it to management’s attention. There could be disciplinary action taken, if the problem continues.