As a Registered Nurse we are required to take a Microbiology class, or something similar. We need to be familiar with and have a working knowledge of this microscopic world to have a better understanding and an appreciation for the disease process and how it affects us.
We learn some very shocking things about fomites and vectors. We learn the intricacies of viruses and the spread of disease. And it’s here that we nurses’ develop our undying and sometimes addictive habit of washing our hands. In fact, not just washing our hands.. but becoming a closet germ-a-phobe.
Not only do daily interactions with people become ‘protective’, but public bathrooms become the most uncomfortable places on earth. (And don’t even get me started on what a microbiologist can tell you about sexual intercourse! – just takes the fun right out of it)
So, here’s the reason for my post, the public bathroom.
What is it with the inconsistency in the bathroom door handle? Why is it in some places you pull the door to get in, and push the door to get out, but in other locations you have to push the door to get in, and then pull the door to get out???
I think it’s a cruel joke masterminded by some jaded construction/maintenance worker.
Why is the push/pull important you ask?? (I know all my non-nursing readers want to know)
Take a minute and think about it.
You wash your hands (I hope) after you do your business. Dry them with the automatic dryer, or hopefully have one of those automatic towel dispensers. You dry your hands, and then proceed to exit the bathroom.
Is there a handle there? Or did you get lucky enough to simply have to push the door open? (which you can easily do with your backside or your hip)
Because if there is a handle there.. All your efforts to clean your hands are going to be negated the minute you touch that handle.
Think about the rest of the public..
Did they wash their hands after their deed? Did that youngster even SEE the sink after they did their business? What about those members of society that just don’t believe in personal hygiene? How many different microorganisms do you think are on that handle?
When is the last time you had a head cold?
Guess what? Most cases of the common head cold are due to someone not washing their hands. Whether you or someone else. The microorganism(s) that cause the common head cold are transferred and transmitted from one person to another by simply touching the same object that a sick person handled. (Go back and review the fomites and vectors link)
So I ask the same question? Why do some establishments have the proper combination and others don’t? What is even more bizarre is that the facilities that have you pull the handle to get out of the bathroom are sometimes, more often than you’d expect, HOSPITALS.
By the way, I didn’t even mention the process of washing your hands and then drying them. Ever stop and think about what your wet hands touch after you’re done washing them and are looking for something to dry them?
You successfully cleaned them. Now you have to dry them. Most of the time you have to pull that handle on the paper dispenser to get your paper. Guess what? You just dirtied your hands all over again by touching the dispenser handle.
This is how we nurses’ think.
While we are on the subject. I have a feasible and tangible solution for combating the ever increasing costs of healthcare these days. I think everyone should take a microbiology class as a required high school class.
Just imagine if you knew then, what you learned in nursing school about the spread of germs?!
In my humble opinion, we might be a much healthier society.