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My goodness last week's leader prompted some responses! Most of the callers and emailers wished to remain anonymous (some sadly still have sick relatives in hospital) but each and every one of them - whichever part of the 'civilised' world they hailed from - had a horror story to share. Thank you everyone that got in touch!
Those I spoke to heard a little more about my experiences, in as much as I'd watched a nurse - who admittedly had experienced a hellish night - mopping up a great quantity of spilled urine from an overturned commode with a mop and bucket, but without first having retrieved urine-soaked items from the floor. Of course it never occurred to her that once she'd rung out the mop using the strainer at the top of the bucket, then dipped the mop back into the urine-contaminated soapy water, she was spreading the urine around the room rather than cleaning it up. Nor did it occur to her to move the furniture and clean its feet before returning it to position and cleaning the area again. Nor did it occur to her that once the urine-soaked items were picked up, urine would drip back onto the 'cleaned' floor.
But then of course she wouldn't , would she, as it wasn't her job?
As well as feeling that there appeared to be a lack of training amongst the cleaners and that nurses shouldn't have to add cleaning to their job descriptions, everyone was in agreement about my comments regarding the shiny floors which seem to be cleaned at the expense of other areas, creating an illusion of 'clean'.
One - from Australia - confessed that his main concern was that 'hot spots', such as bedside telephones, TV remote controls, door handles, tray tables etc don't seem to be cleaned - and of course these are likely to be teeming with bacteria. His input reminded me of the amount of technical equipment that is commonplace in modern hospitals and how often I've observed that this alone will make a hospital much more difficult to clean.
My comments also prompted a response in the form of a very clever and outspoken technical article from experienced consultant Mary de Cobos, on the cleaning of hospitals. To learn where and why we are getting it so wrong, make sure you read Mary's article below.
And if you have any further comments on the above, I'd be happy to receive them...
11th October 2012