Intended for healthcare professionals


A cautionary tale

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1260
  1. James Burge, senior house officer (,
  2. Jane Sword, consultant elderly care physician
  1. Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, Exeter
  2. Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust.

    Hospital acquired infection has a nasty habit of striking just as the patient is getting better. This is never more apparent than on elderly care wards, where vulnerable patients often require a period of rehabilitation. During my four months as a senior house officer on an elderly care ward, I was particularly careful to clean my hands between patients, and to this end each bed was fitted with a bottle of alcohol gel. New arrivals on the ward could be forgiven for feeling surprised by each doctor's display of enthusiasm as he or she approaches with a smile and a vigorous rubbing of hands, and puzzled by the smell of alcohol not …

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