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New Study Shows Less than 7% of Doctors Wash Hands Before Treating Patients

It seems that a requirement for doctors and nurses to wash their hands before touching a patient in a hospital setting should be expected. It is undisputed that the practice of hand washing is integral in preventing the spread of infection, especially in places rife with disease, such as in hospital emergency rooms.

Still, many studies have documented generally low rates of hand washing among health care workers.

In fact, in a new university-conducted study detailed by MSNBC, when video cameras were installed to ensure proper hygiene, complicity in hand washing procedures was as high as 88%. However, when the healthcare professionals didn’t know that cameras were watching, off-site reviewers reported that less than 7% of doctors and nurses were washing their hands when entering, or before leaving, a patient’s room.

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys are all too aware of the risks these healthcare workers are imposing on their patients. Healthcare providers owe a duty of care to their patients, and when that duty is breached – either intentionally or negligently – and the patient is harmed, both the healthcare professional and the hospital may be liable for causing the injury and an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit may arise.

When individuals are injured by careless or intentional acts of a doctor, nurse, psychiatrist, dentist, chiropractor, podiatrist, or other healthcare provider, the professional is responsible for his or her actions, but the hospital or institution employing the worker may also be legally liable for either failing to supervise the employee, or failing to properly hire and train qualified professionals.

Injuries suffered as a result of medical malpractice can be severe and life altering. When someone is determined to be legally responsible for injuring someone else, they are liable for the injury, and may be made to pay the injured person compensatory damages. Compensatory damages attempt to put an injured person back in the position he or she was in before being injured. In some cases, punitive damages are also awarded in these lawsuits. Punitive damages are intended to punish wrongdoers and prevent them from harming others; punitive damages also serve to send a message to others in the same position as the liable party, warning them to be more careful in their actions – in this case, in the treatment of patients.

Chicago personal injury lawsuits may arise out of a number of different situations, including a negligent spread of infection from one patient to another. Although diseases are commonly found in hospitals with sick patients, doctors and nurses have the responsibility to ensure that they do their part to stop the spread of infection.

“Logically, according to common sense hand hygiene is a good thing to do because if you do it properly it removes bacteria from the skin,” Said Dinah Gould, who has studied hand-washing interventions as a researcher at City University in London. “Doctors and nurses should do it and patients in their care should expect it’s going to be done.”