"The patient has every right to ask and know if health care workers wash their hands between patients," Tierno said. "And that is no matter who the person is, whether it is a nurse, a physician or a technician. Because hospital-acquired infections account for about 100,000 deaths in the U.S. alone per year, and 80 percent of all infectious disease is transmitted by either direct contact, such as coughing, talking, sneezing, or indirect contact, such as not washing your hands after touching a bed, a telephone, a doorknob in a patient's room," he explained.
"So there are many institutions in the U.S. that have initiated hand-washing programs," Tierno noted, "and I personally think it's foolish and myopic for any health care worker to be offended by a patient asking this sort of question. Patients have that right and they are justified in asking."
For more on hand hygiene, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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