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Call to lift ban on sitting on hospital beds

17th March 2010

Rules which prevent hospital doctors and visitors from sitting on patients’ beds have been criticised by a GP.

bedscorridor1

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr Iona Heath said the rules – taken by many hospitals to try to reduce infections like MRSA and Clostridium difficile - were ‘demeaning’ and ‘joyless.’

She also criticised the ban on flowers and said there was “no hard evidence” for either ruling.

While acknowledging the importance of infection control, Dr Heath said such regulations were an over-reaction.

“Doctors should never be discouraged from sitting, because patients consistently estimate that they have been given more time when the doctor sits down rather than stands,” she said.

“Such interactions are precious and should be made easier rather than more difficult.”

The Patients' Association said it was for ward managers to set rules for visitors but there should be enough seating for visiting relatives to use.

The association’s Katherine Murphy said: “When people are very ill, relatives can feel closer by sitting on the bed. Some discretion should be allowed.”

Rules vary between hospitals over flowers or doctors sitting on beds, but there is the belief that patients with MRSA could shed contaminated skin onto the bedding, which could be picked up and passed on.

The Department of Health said such bans were taken at local level and were good practice.

A spokesperson said: "While any link between cut flowers and infections is small, some hospitals may choose to ban them from wards where patients have their immunity to infection severely reduced by their current disease or treatment.”

 

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Comments

Dominic McGuinness

Thursday 18th March 2010 @ 7:50

The ban on flowers where I work is not just because it has implications for the growth of bacterium is stagnat water, but it is also for those patients, visitors and staff who have hayfever. Also because of the uncontrollable sneezing associated with this condition is another way of spreading unwanted diseases.

The ban on doctors sitting on beds, is not just about infection control, but about the image that it gives.


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