Hospitals have recently been stepping up their infection control procedures, in the wake of news about iatrogenic infections afflicting patients when they are admitted. Doctors are increasingly wearing a variety of protective garb — gowns, gloves, and masks — while seeing patients.
In an interesting New York Times column, Pauline Chen wonders how this affects the doctor-patient relationship. She cites a study from the Annals of Family Medicine, which concluded that,
fear of contagion among physicians, studies have shown, can compromise the quality of care delivered. When compared with patients not in isolation, those individuals on contact precautions have fewer interactions with clinicians, more delays in care, decreased satisfaction and greater incidences of depression and anxiety. These differences translate into more noninfectious complications like falls and pressure ulcers and an increase of as much at 100 percent in the overall incidence of adverse events.
Hospitals are in a no-win situation here. On one hand, they have to do all they can to minimize the risk of healthcare-acquired infections, but on the other, doctors need to strive for a closer bond with patients — which protective garb sometimes can impede. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*