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Personal hygiene - or the lack of it - and its link to the spread of infection has been hitting the headlines again in recent weeks.
First there was the repeat of the news which seems to surface every couple of years that many Brits don't wash their hands after visiting the loo, then the revelation that many Frenchmen only shower once a week (I know we need to conserve water but surely this is taking it to extremes)! This week comes the report regarding what is claimed to have been the widest and most prolonged study into handwashing in healthcare environments that has ever been carried out (see more below). It says that 'personalised feedback' makes healthcare workers twice as likely to wash their hands.
We all know what we're supposed to do, don't we? And we all know the potential consequences of not complying. Yet many of us simply choose not to.
I can't help feeling that inattention to personal hygiene is a mix of laziness and something akin to feeling that 'what the eye doesn't see, the heart can't grieve over' (for those readers not familiar with this English proverb, it means that if you're unaware of an unpleasant situation or someone's bad behaviour, you can't be troubled by it). I believe that those who decide not to comply with handwashing requirements often do so because they think they can get away with it... that if they're not seen leaving their hands unwashed, people can't be disgusted with them - and to hell with the consequences. It's human nature, isn't it? But not a nice part of human nature when it's actually endangering the lives of others....
So the answer is personalised feedback; tackling those that don't do as they're supposed to and sending them back to do it properly, much as my mother used to when she'd check to see that I'd washed the back of my neck properly when I was little.
25th October 2012