Maureen Pratt Author PicYesterday, I had a doctor’s appointment. The nurse who took me into the examination room did not wash her hands before moving to start my eye exam. The nurse who took me into another examination room immediately after a couple exited it did not sterilize the exam area before admitting me to it. The doctor who came in to examine me did not wash his hands before approaching me to begin his exam. Not – that is – until I asked them to.

One of the nurses seemed a bit put off by my request to take care because of my immuno-suppressed state. The nurse who sterilized the exam area, upon my request, did not speak at all while she did so. But my doctor noddeed approvingly and said, “Yes, very good idea. I don’t mind your asking at all. I completely understand,” as he cleaned his hand with sanitizing gel.

Often, we might feel as if we’re doing the wrong thing by advocating for ourselves. But if we don’t, who will? Healthcare workers today, however caring and well-trained, are busy beyond the hours in the day, and the demands on them for record-keeping, compliance, and other adminstrative concerns can overshadow simple acts of patient care and infection prevention.

Don’t feel you’re rude to ask a doctor to wash his or her hands. Don’t feel you’re being selfish to ask for another healthcare worker to help you if the one assigned to you has a cold or seems to have an infection. And don’t feel you’re “upsetting the apple cart” by asking for a sanitized exam area and fresh, clean gowns, instruments, and other items that will be used in your exam.

It’s all right to ask for as clean a healthcare environment as possible. After all, it is your right!

Joy and peace,


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