Gripes & Graplings

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Accident & Emergency

I have a Broviac line inserted in my chest. This is a central line designed to provide long-term intravenous (IV) access. I have 'short bowel syndrome' and since I can't absorb nutrition through the bowel, I'm on lifetime TPN (total parenteral nutrition) which is given to me via my line. Sounds icky but you get used to it.

Anyway, from what I've understood, it lays in my subclavian vein and leads down to my heart. What I know for certain is that it's imperative that the very highest standards of hygiene are adhered to whenever I need to remove the line from it's sterile covering, regardless of the reason or where I might be. An infection in my line could be fatal and I'm not ready to die.

With that in mind, I wonder if anybody can explain why, during a recent visit to A&E, three doctors asked "can I just take a look at your line?" whilst approaching it with outstretched fingers, ready to unpack it, WITHOUT SO MUCH AS WASHING THEIR HANDS!!??

Not one of them bothered to go anywhere near the sink, let alone use alco gel and sterile gloves, even though there are posters hung on just about every available wall space warning of the dangers of spreading MRSA and other infections through poor hand hygiene!

How do doctors manage to pass their exams if they can't read? Those preparing the sandwiches in "Subway" have better hand hygiene than either of the doctors I encountered.

On each occasion I had to stop the doctor and tell him/her that "no, you can't look at my line as I only allow it to be unwrapped in situations where it's absolutely necessary and then only under aseptic conditions".

Neither of these doctors had any reason to see or touch my line other than to satisfy their own curiosity. Seeing/touching it would have made no difference at all to my diagnosis but could have, quite literally, cost me my life.

How dare they?!

Related Links:
British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition



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