Feature Hospital Hygiene

Are superbug fears turning patients into hospital cleaners?

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b729 (Published 25 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b729
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner
  1. 1Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}margaretmccartney.com

    A hygiene pack for those going into hospital has been selling in the thousands. But should a sick person be wiping down lockers three times a day, and is there any evidence for using the pack anyway, asks Margaret McCartney

    It is “The essential hygiene pack for anyone going into hospital, travelling or caring for a patient” and the “ideal gift.” At least that is what the PatientPak box declares. For £15 (€17; $21) you get a clutch of items including soap, lip balm, fabric spray, surface wipes, and body wash. Illustrations on the box suggest it can be used in care homes, the bathroom, when eating, for children, and on cruises, as well as in hospital and work settings. In other words, there may be few places where using it is inappropriate.

    But does it work, and is it worth the money? Jonathan Sayeed, whose background is in politics and business, became involved with PatientPak a year ago when a friend wanted help in “moving the product forward.” It was launched in September 2008 and around 10 000 packs were sold last month through high street retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury, Boots, and Mothercare.

    Why did he decide to become involved? “There is a great need for it,” he says. “Superbugs are a scourge—they have caused immense problems to individuals and families, and they are costing the NHS well over a billion pounds a year. Those …

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