Good old fashioned soap and running water are far more effective than hand sanitizers, which should be used ONLY when soap and water are not available. Even the antimicrobial hand soaps are overkill. (As we used to say when I worked in the O.R. for many years, “the solution to pollution is dilution.”) So this gives me a chance to vent. (Imagine that.)
Personally I find it unacceptable that, when needing the services of a health provider, that they choose to squirt on chemical hand sanitizers rather than walking over to the sink and do a decent hand wash before examining me. IF THEY EVEN BOTHER DOING THAT! Excuse me, you can’t take 20 recommended seconds to actually WASH your hands before you begin an exam, and then you reach for that nasty, unsanitary stethoscope that hangs around your neck, that’s touched 50 other people before it gets used on me??? And the oximeter. And the thermometer. I gag every time I need these services, as I observe all the breaks in technique. Why? Because everyone’s in a hurry!
It also takes 30 seconds for hand sanitizer to be effective and the effect may last 2 minutes. But does anyone wait that long before they come at you? This stuff has replaced good hand washing techniques, sadly. Even decent “scrubbing” in the O.R. where the body becomes more vulnerable than in just about any situation. Hey, your insides get filleted and you’re wide open to whatever’s there! Just sayin’.
Hand sanitizers build up goo on your skin, and can hide a lot of microbes. What’s needed is to wash them away with soap and running water. (One reason I actually like hand washing my dishes and do not own a dishwasher. My hands get at least one good dunky splish splash in hot soapy water a day!) Then feel free to don your exam gloves (which may or may not contain tiny holes.)
Whoever started this hand sanitizer fad is making a killing. And I’m not sure it also hasn’t contributed to nosocomial infections and outright deaths in hospitals or other settings. I’ve actually asked med techs and nurses to wash their hands after using those likewise unsanitary computer keyboards. And I am also not shy about asking physicians, PAs and nurse practitioners to go and do likewise. Imagine that.
Wake up, caregivers on all levels!
And kudos to those of you who do it right. Remind your co-workers will you?