Most Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients will be surprised to learn that recently the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nineteen (19) Dialysis Clinics in eight (8) states revealed that thirty-six (36) patients had been infected with Hepatitis C. Although, the exact cause of the outbreaks were not pinpointed, WebMD.com noted, "Lapses in infection control procedures -- such as injection safety, cleaning and disinfection, and hand hygiene -- [which] were common at these clinics...could contribute to transmission of the virus."
Hepatitis C is a lifelong infection, which may lead to Cirrhosis (nodular regeneration of the liver), Liver Failure, and even death. Robert Preidt (HealthDay Reporter) wrote, "Hepatitis C infections among Dialysis patients in the United States are rising, largely because of poor infection control practices, health officials say." The CDC agreed that the latest report, "underscores the widespread potential for patients to acquire serious infections during Dialysis care." Moreover, CDC added, "Hepatitis C transmission can be prevented when proper infection prevention and environmental disinfection practices are consistently followed."
Surprisingly, many Dialysis patients are still hesitant to ask their Healthcare Professionals to wear gloves or ensure that they have washed their hands. Yet, they should not be. In fact, the CDC encourages as much, "Patients and their loved ones can play an important role in the prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) – they can ask or remind Healthcare providers to wash their hands. "
Although, performing proper hand hygiene is a simple, mundane task it has been shown to dramatically reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections. Still, there are many reasons why it is not always practiced as recommended: forgetfulness, too busy, lack of supplies, etc. Just asking your Patient Care Technician or Doctor if they washed their hands can be very stressful, intimidating and uncomfortable so most patients just take the risk of infection instead of broaching the topic.
"The discomfort of speaking up outweighs the potential consequences of not doing so," the CDC suggested, and offered the following script to make it a bit easier for patients:
Patient: “Doctor/Patient Care Technician, I’m embarrassed to even ask you this, but would you mind cleansing your hands before you begin?”
Clinician: “Oh, I washed them right before I came in the room.”
Patient: “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like you to do it again in front of me.”
Clinician: “Sure, no problem.”
Patient: “Thanks, Doctor/Patient Care Technician. I know how important hand hygiene is in preventing the spread of infections.”
Note that you may consider replacing "Doctor/Patient Care Technician" with actual names during a real life exchange. Also, help to further improve your protection by scanning your area to make sure it looks wiped clean and that all instruments appear to be new and clean before being used on you.
Do you ask your Physician, Patient Care Technician or Nurse to wash their hands? Would you use the above script to approach your Doctor or Patient Care Technician? Let's start a conversation about this important issue by leaving a comment at the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page and engage with our over 34,700 friends. While you are there, like the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page and visit KidneyBuzz.com regularly (115,000+ unique monthly viewers) for the latest tailored breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives. You may become a regular visitor like, Charles Griffin who said, "Praise God for KidneyBuzz."