Sunday, October 15, 2017

Put That Pig on a Leash…. a phrase coined by the husband of a friend of mine.  She had been mowed down at the skating rink by a gal larger than she, thus inflicting bodily harm and a trip to the ER requiring sutures.  He was referring to the mower, not the mowee.  That was about 12 years ago.  It's still funny.

Today I use the term to refer to the pigs who inhabit my world, the patients as well as their families and visitors, cousins, neighbors, acquantances, etc.  Basically anyone who dwells in any part of my ER.  All pigs.  And it's not just the blood and gore, spit, vomit, piss, shit that has turned me into a germophobe.

The waiting room is littered with trash.  Trust me, it's not the staff who does this.  The leavings of fast food fine dining are left on the floor, empty chairs, windowsills.  Coffee cups, soda cans.  Trash bins are apparently sacred oracles to be avoided at all costs.

Masks that coughing patients are asked to don are crumpled and left anywhere.  I can't even speak about used Kleenex and used (usually empty) vomit bags.

We clinical staff , because we don't have enough to do, disinfect and clean the treatment rooms after the patient leaves.  This should only take a few minutes although I try to do a through job cleaning up after my pig patients to make it spiffy for my next pig patients.  But the rooms are generally disasters.  In addition to the aforementioned trash will also be used bandaids and used gauze, used Kleenex and paper towels strewn about.  Meal trays.  Each of 12 EKG electrodes and at least 3 monitor electrodes are  stuck to the bedside table or side rails because the trash, all of 2 feet away, is just too much of an effort.

 I disinfect all the moving parts that touch my patients.  We use the environmental staff only if there is debris on the floor such as body fluids, mud,  or an infestation of bed bugs.  Once it was necessary to have environmental steam clean a room after one of my patients arrived with 3 different infestations of insect and covered in poo.  The poor old soul.  I discarded my scrubs and demanded new ones.  Then I had them steam clean my clogs, otherwise I would have thrown them away.

This is why the germophobe in me gets worse all the time.  I compulsively wash my hands because of people's piggish habits.   I am protecting myself from their germs rather than the other way around, despite the admonitions for staff to do so.  Cute little posters that invite the public to put us on the spot and ask if they don't see us doing so.  Yes I use sanitizer, but consider it a stopgap until I can get to hot running water and soap.  To me using hand sanitizer is the equivalent of taking a deep breath and holding it until you can get away from a stench and take a deep breath of fresh air.

 Unless you live in a permanent bubble, the world is full of germs, every surface you touch in the real world.  In a medical environment where people are casual about excreta it is worse.  And lets just say the bathroom habits of the general public is less than optimum.  There are a LOT of people who don't wash after using the toilet.  Shudder.  Many and many a time I am approached with a proferred full specimen container.  Sometimes it is damp, sometimes it is wet.  In a damp bag.   And people expect me to accept it without putting on gloves.  NOPE.  I disinfect with Lysol any pens  which people sign their admission or discharge patients because scrupulous attention to hygiene seems to have gone by the wayside.  If people are truly disgusting I throw them away.

OK, now I am going to turn you into a raging germophobe too.  After exiting the bathroom, handing me a warm, wet cup of pee (or whatever), people are perfectly happy to go and sit down in the waiting room.  In chairs that are never disinfected.  Eating their doritos and drinking their lattes, handling money, going in and out of the cafeteria.


Now, what else are they touching?

Sleep well.