As a doctor, you may spend at least 40 hours each week in your office dealing with countless numbers of patients, which may open up the possibility for your office to become a breeding ground for pathogens. Here are the five dirtiest places in your clinic that need to be sanitized more frequently.
Doctor jobs require checking appointments and information of the next clients in their personal computer before meeting one. Throughout the appointment, they may assess patients’ conditions with bare hands and/or some medical tools like a thermometer to measure patients’ temperature or a stethoscope to listen to patients’ heart or breathing, while making notes and updating their findings into a database using the keyboard. After the visit, medical records also need to be kept and reviewed again.
Hence, the keyboard may be the most used item during the appointment process. And this means both doctors and patients may be exposed to a wide variety of bacterial and viral contamination from the computer and the keyboard.
Hygiene Tip: Clean your keyboard every day, keep a wipeable plastic cover over the keyboard, use medical gloves, and sanitize between visits.
This widely used tool is also a breeding ground for germs in doctors’ clinics. You may not find it dirty, but after appointments, it has touched plenty of patients coming into the office each day, while it is often used directly on a bareback or chest. Some doctors may listen with a stethoscope through a shirt, still, that cannot protect us from contamination.
As published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, stethoscopes are consistently shown to contain bacteria, with an average rate of stethoscope contamination of 85%. While the vast majority of those bacteria were incapable of causing disease, some stethoscopes contaminated with MRSA – the bacteria causing Staph infections. If doctors use a stethoscope on a patient that has MRSA, then they are likely to transfer the bacteria to the next patient.
Hygiene Tips: Decontaminate stethoscopes prior to seeing each patient, or use protective devices on the stethoscope.
White coats can consistently transmit pathogens, including drug-resistant bacteria associated with hospital-acquired infections. As stated in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, up to 16% of tested white coats are positive for MRSA, and up to 42% for the bacterial class Gram-negative rods.
Though most hospitals and healthcare providers usually wash the coats every 2 weeks, they were still contaminated, especially on the sides, collar and pockets. Doctor’s white coats can be a threat to our health if they are worn without being washed every day.
Hygiene Tips: Have a regular schedule for washing and changing new coats.
Door handles are also on the top list of the germiest things in the doctor’s office. During medical appointments, the office’s door handles are touched when: (1) the patient enters the room, (2) the nurse comes in and out to obtain vital signs, (3) the doctor change their shifts, not to mention the phlebotomist who comes to do blood draws and other people who come along with patients.
And each time someone puts their hands on the door, there is a possibility that the germs are transferred between the object and the hand. And they could be detected on hands and surfaces after just 2 hours.
Hygiene Tips: Carry around hand sanitizer, use a paper towel to open any doors, and put a sink to wash hands in the patient room if possible.
When it comes to the dirty stuff in the doctors’ office, we cannot ignore the ink pen that is attached to the clipboard or fixed on the table. The pens here can be given to dozens of people during the day to fill out forms – as keeping medical records is a must. Some doctors and nurses also have the habit of taking notes about every patient. Plus, some procedures require us to sign documents. Thus, ink pens turn into the most touched items that are mostly never cleaned items in any medical center.
Hygiene Tip: Gather information from the patients using personal devices, and bring your own with you.
Not until the current COVID19 pandemic that preventing transmission and infection in the medical setting is important and challenging. Bacteria may not only stem from infected patients but also from common items doctors use every day. Besides some self-care tips for healthcare workers, you’d better know how dirty are doctors offices, understand where they come from and prepare proper preventive methods in order to protect yourself.