At least two billion people are without clean drinking water, consuming water so contaminated the World Health Organization says the source has fecal matter in it. I think about my colleague, Barbara Connell and her look back to Benjamin Franklin and one particular quote, “In wine there is wisdom. In beer there is freedom, and in water there is bacteria.” Why are people paying good money to drink unprocessed and unfiltered raw water right now?
Fads come and go. But in the era of social media, dangerous trends can spread even more rapidly before facts have time to be well understood. This is not confined to online chatter, and social fads and trends are impacting healthcare providers.
In the emergency room you’re managing multiple patients at any given time. You start them off with a triage and you bring them in and you assess them and you see exactly where they should go in the order. Any patient might require anywhere from one to 15 re-interventions based off the level of their care, but when you have people essentially causing harm to themselves because “it’s what everyone else is doing,” then they’re putting added stress and work on an already overworked team in the emergency department. It’s important to have conversations with these individuals about what they’re doing. Don’t just treat and discharge. Educate.
2. Regression in public hygiene
We’ve come so far in healthcare. The WHO estimates about 842,000 people die each year from diarrhea as a result of unsafe drinking-water, sanitation, and hand hygiene. We’ve seen patients with dysentery and other illnesses because of parasites. Going against what we already know is impacting the work doctors and nurses have been doing for decades and hurting the long hours they put in everyday to keep our communities healthy. It’s so simple not to eat laundry detergent. Why should we regress?
3. Spread of infection
We already know about the dangers of certain fads. Often times the ridiculousness of the act is what causes it to go viral, but we have to consider the stomach illness that brought Patient A into the hospital could impact your other patients and visitors. If that patient with diarrhea doesn’t properly wash their hands, and then touches a surface, even a curtain and the next person comes in and touches that same surface, now we’re zeroing in on an infection outbreak. No hospital wants a health care-associated infection.
We may dismiss what’s happening online, but we need to be cognizant of these fads. We must have responses, education and protocols ready as to prevent infections and hopefully end the latest fad.
You can learn more about reducing the risk of infection in your facility by standardizing practice and improving patient care.