Nurse Karin Berntsen shares what a woman should do if she suspects her healthcare providers are not washing their hands.
Hi, I am Karin Berntsen. I am the Director of Quality & Risk Management at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California. I am also the Patient Safety Officer for the hospital.
I have worked at Alvarado for over four years and I have also authored two books on patient safety because patient safety is a very personal passion of mine as I believe all patients should have the best possible, safest care that they can have when they are in the hospital.
The books that I have authored are, “The Patient’s Guide to Preventing Medical Errors,” by Greenwood Publishing Group, and that is a book that really talks about the complexities in healthcare and some of the issues that have been going on related to system breakdowns, system failures that can lead to medical errors and medication errors, and it’s really based very much on the Institute of Medicine’s report from 1999 saying that more people die in hospitals across the United States than die in airline crashes. And, so it’s very important that the patient become educated about what they can do to help improve patient safety in the hospital.
My second book is a little more personal. It tells the stories of 13 Americans who have been affected by medical errors and it is really a novel-like story that tells their personal life, their personal information, and talks about a medical error that either occurred to a family member, to themselves, or a mere miss in a hospital from a very personalized standpoint.
Following each story in “Fatal care,” whose authored by a physician Sanjaya Kumar and I worked with him as a contributory writer and researcher for the book, there’s tips for the consumer on how they can help prevent those medical errors, how they can central to their healthcare.
If you suspect that your healthcare provider, your physician or nurse that you see and you observe that they are not washing their hands or using hand gel, if you are comfortable, please say something to them.
Many hospitals now have information for their employees that say we want our patients to ask you to wash your hands, and say, you know, “I didn’t notice that you washed your hands,” but perhaps they used hand gel outside the door, but no healthcare provider should get upset when you ask that question. So be comfortable asking that question.
And back to my point about an advocate, if you are not comfortable, see if your advocate will ask the healthcare provider, “Hey, did you use hand gel?” Or, “Did you wash your hands?” Or, “Please, would you use hand gel or wash your hands when caring for me?”
About Karin Berntsen, R.N.:
Karin Berntsen, R.N., is the Director of Quality and Risk Management at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California. She is also the Patient Safety Officer for the hospital. Nurse Berntsen has worked at Alvarado for more than four years, authored two books on patient safety, and believes passionately that all patients should have the best, safest care possible when they are in the hospital.