Having the opportunity to visit many healthcare practices and hospitals, it’s hard to miss the countless numbers of hand sanitizer dispensers along hallway walls, exam room doors, entrances and exits.
A shift has occurred in physician hygiene from the days of washing hands at the sink before greeting patients. I was a patient at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, for routine care while director of The Vision Care Institute at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. It was difficult to miss the hundreds of alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers being installed in every exam room, alongside elevators, hallways and waiting areas. When physicians, nurses or technicians entered a Mayo exam room, they were either rubbing their hands to assist with the cleaning and evaporation of the alcohol-based hand sanitizer or looking for a dispenser in the room while starting a conversation. I received a quality assurance survey to understand if this behavior was noticed and if the healthcare practitioners were compliant. Eventually these behavior changes became habits. These days, even grocery stores are getting involved with hand sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipe dispensers at entrances and exits.
Perhaps it’s time for optometrists to take a look at their offices that are full of healthy and sick patients and install some hands-free sanitizer stations for patients, technicians, opticians and doctors to use. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers are quick and easy to implement, let’s not forget that hand washing with soap and water remains a viable method for healthcare providers to decrease the chance of passing along pathogens to patients. You just have to use warm water and wash long enough to sing the happy birthday song twice.
Richard Clompus, OD, FAAO | Professional Editor | RC@OptometricOffice.com