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New Device Detects Whether Or Not You’ve Washed Your Hands

Doctors at the University of Florida invented a device that sniffs employees’ hands for soap residue to check whether they’ve washed them enough.

After employees wash their hands, they pass them under the sniffer and their badge activates. When they later approach a patient, a bed-side monitor reads the badge and flashes green if the person has clean hands. If the person didn’t wash or too much time has passed since they have, the badge vibrates to remind the employee.

We’d already covered bathing hands with plasma instead of soap. Don’t get those near the sniffer.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

A New Way To Wash Your Hands?

Forget the debate over soap and water vs. alcohol sanitizers. Soon you may be cleaning your hands with plasma. The New York Times is reporting on research into plasma as a method of hand cleaning. Basically, you’ll stick your hand in a little box for a few seconds and then the plasma will zap all the germs, including MRSA. The technology is not ready for action yet, but sounds pretty cool. Except for one thing–if you look at the photos that accompany the article, you’ll notice that a normal-looking human hand is inserted in the box, but the hand that comes out the other side (in the next photo) looks creepy and synthetic. What else is that plasma doing?

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

The Most Disgusting Hand-Shake Ever

Shaking hands is not really such a good idea, especially in a hospital where there are all sorts of nasty bugs floating around, seeking whom they may devour. So generally I do not shake hands unless the patient absolutely insists and I think the cultural slight may be more than he can bear. But one incident highlighted to me the reason you generally don’t want to shake hands so well it could just have well been written all over the hospital in bright neon lights.

I was on call that night so it fell to me to evaluate and treat the patient in casualties which the casualty officer said had a perianal abscess. I approached the bed and introduced myself, but I made a point of positioning myself in such a way that the patient wouldn’t be able to greet me with the traditional handshake. Experience had taught me that this was one case where this cultural idiosyncracy was patricularly ill-advised.

I asked what the problem was. without saying a word his hand moved to his gluteal cleft in one smooth motion. Moments later I found myself staring with morbid fascination as he pulled his butt cheeks apart and started prodding what was clearly an abscess with his finger. It had already broken open slightly so there was a thin stream of pus oozing out and following the natural pull of gravity. The patient’s grubby finger scratched, prodded and poked this poor stream of sepsis, completely disrupting its attempt to soil the bed linen. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

The Dirt On Doctors

bathtub I was hesitant to post this photo because it is an image of my girlfriend’s bathtub in New York City. I’m sure she wouldn’t want me to post this, but I figure it’s ok because I didn’t reveal her identity and also, she doesn’t read my blog.

My girlfriend is a physician. She is friendly and smart and well-groomed. Her bathroom, on the other hand, is pretty scary. It’s not unlike other bathrooms I’ve seen in New York – which means this could be partially a cultural phenomenon. She knows it needs cleaning – I guess.

She invited me to stay at her place during a recent visit – instead of a hotel – and I gladly accepted. We planned to have a nice dinner and drinks out on the town. She showed me to my room and casually mentioned that she needed to get some Draino for the bathroom. I wondered what exactly that might mean, and was surprised by her use of understatement in this case. Read more »

Hospitals Planning To Punish Docs Who Don’t Help Them Get Paid

Over at the WSJ Health Blog, some academic docs, such as hospitalist Dr. Wachter are suggesting just that.

Punishments such as revoking privileges for a chunk of time tend to be used for administrative infractions that cost the hospital money – things like failing to sign the discharge summaries that insurance companies require to pay the hospital bill. By contrast, hospital administrators may just shrug their shoulders when it comes to doctors who fail or refuse to follow rules like a “time out” before surgery to avoid operating on the wrong body part.

Docs and nurses who fail to follow rules about hand hygiene or patient handoffs should lose their privileges for a week, Pronovost and Wachter suggest. They recommend loss of privileges for two weeks for surgeons who who fail to perform a “time-out” before surgery or don’t mark the surgical site to prevent wrong-site surgery.

This couldn’t have come at a better time.  At Happy’s hospital there is a massive witch hunt to crack down on not signing off verbal orders within 48 hours.  This has nothing to do with patient safety.  It has everything to do with meeting the requirements of CMS  so the hospital does not lose their funding. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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