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Old 01.12.2011, 11:43
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Hygiene at doctor's practice

I'm a bit concerned about a hygiene issue. in the short time I've lived here I couldn't help but notice (as confirmed by other EF threads) that certain basic and elsewhere accepted norms seem not to apply in switzerland, for instance the "wear gloves when handling someone else's food" rule. after having seen burgers been prepared without gloves in front of the customers at burger king I just left without ordering - utterly disgusting, never again, thanks very much. for that reason I've come to the point of preferring to buy industrially packaged cheese and meat, rather than the so-called "fresh" at the counter. on the other hand, who knows what's going on behind those walls in the packaging department?!

anyway, what concerns me more - and I wouldn't had dreamt it would be possible - is that at my doctor's practice the nurse actually draws blood without wearing disposable latex gloves, just with her bare hands (longish nails and not washed immediately before doing it, which would at least have a reassuring effect on the patient). the room is old and grubby, too, and they had me lay my arm on the feet end of the bed, just very scantily covered by a piece of (used?) paper.
I don't have much experience of doctors here yet, so I can't say if this behaviour is generalised and if the swiss in general have other priorities when visiting a doctor's practice than, say, other european countries I've lived in.
mind you, I don't mean that the practice should look new or shiny and glamorous, and I do agree that the the quality of medical counsel is the utmost priority (that's the reason I went to this "grubby" practice, the doctor was recommended to me). but surely it should be CLEAN and the staff should be giving the impression that they respect standard hygiene procedures?!

before I change practice - considering that the doctor seemed competent enough - I'd like to know if anyone else has had similar experiences and how you see this issue. maybe my fears are exaggerated and someone with a medical or paramedical profession can reassure me that I can go regularly to this practice to have my blood drawn without risking contamination?

I had even thought of asking the nurse to wear them but I was took taken aback to act quickly. besides, I didn't want to appear offensive, everybody is so nice here... (at least my impression so far)
I also thought that maybe the disposable gloves aren't considered a standard after all and that I have missed out on something?

thanks a lot for your views! hopefully you can reassure me
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Old 01.12.2011, 11:49
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

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I'm a bit concerned about a hygiene issue. in the short time I've lived here I couldn't help but notice (as confirmed by other EF threads) that certain basic and elsewhere accepted norms seem not to apply in switzerland, for instance the "wear gloves when handling someone else's food" rule. after having seen burgers been prepared without gloves in front of the customers at burger king I just left without ordering - utterly disgusting, never again, thanks very much. for that reason I've come to the point of preferring to buy industrially packaged cheese and meat, rather than the so-called "fresh" at the counter. on the other hand, who knows what's going on behind those walls in the packaging department?!

anyway, what concerns me more - and I wouldn't had dreamt it would be possible - is that at my doctor's practice the nurse actually draws blood without wearing disposable latex gloves, just with her bare hands (longish nails and not washed immediately before doing it, which would at least have a reassuring effect on the patient). the room is old and grubby, too, and they had me lay my arm on the feet end of the bed, just very scantily covered by a piece of (used?) paper.
I don't have much experience of doctors here yet, so I can't say if this behaviour is generalised and if the swiss in general have other priorities when visiting a doctor's practice than, say, other european countries I've lived in.
mind you, I don't mean that the practice should look new or shiny and glamorous, and I do agree that the the quality of medical counsel is the utmost priority (that's the reason I went to this "grubby" practice, the doctor was recommended to me). but surely it should be CLEAN and the staff should be giving the impression that they respect standard hygiene procedures?!

before I change practice - considering that the doctor seemed competent enough - I'd like to know if anyone else has had similar experiences and how you see this issue. maybe my fears are exaggerated and someone with a medical or paramedical profession can reassure me that I can go regularly to this practice to have my blood drawn without risking contamination?

I had even thought of asking the nurse to wear them but I was took taken aback to act quickly. besides, I didn't want to appear offensive, everybody is so nice here... (at least my impression so far)
I also thought that maybe the disposable gloves aren't considered a standard after all and that I have missed out on something?

thanks a lot for your views! hopefully you can reassure me
I've pointed out the same thing in previous threads. The notion, that you receive first class medical treatment here is definitely not the case.
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Old 01.12.2011, 11:55
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

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thanks a lot for your views! hopefully you can reassure me
Yes, don't worry. Are you reassured now?
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:05
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

I can't comment on medical but can on restaurants.

Not trying to put you off your lunches but as a hotelier trained in health & safety, I've seen serious flaws at quite a few restaurants in Switzerland. While I agree that H&S can get a bit anal and too extreme, the procedures are in place for the guests' health & safety.

Chef's hats are just a part of it. Nothing puts me off more than seeing a hair in my meal. Horrid visions haunt my mind instantly. More important than gloves are hand washing facilities in the kitchen with the proper soaps/disinfectants.

I've seen overfilled garbage cans right beside the kitchen pass where food is served. I've seen chefs cut vegetables on the same chopping board where they were cutting raw meat (cross contamination). I've seen chefs stuff garbage into garbage cans with their bare hands, then continue preparing a meal without having washed their hands. I've seen many chefs with the flu sneezing all over the food. And the worst, I was taking a leak in the WC when a chef came out of the toilet stall (no. 2) and went straight back to the kitchen without washing his hands!!!

Of course, it's not only in Switzerland and it happens the world over, but I would expect the standards to be a bit higher in the west. International hoteliers in Asia & Africa who cater to international tour operators have to contend with in depth H&S audits several times a year. I believe the British are better at this and even display the rating of their H&S inspections at the restaurant/pub/establishment.

I remember when I did an internship at a restaurant in the German part of Switzerland several years back. Whenever the inspector came by, the manager would plough him with booze & food and the inspection was conveniently overlooked ... made me laugh as it reminded me of home.

En Güete

Last edited by Me Myself & I; 01.12.2011 at 12:17.
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:06
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

the reason that nurses wear gloves to take blood is actually to protect themselves NOT the patient. A needlestick injury whilst taking blood is cause for concern for the nurse as she could be infected from whatever the patient may be carrying not vice versa as a needlestick injury from nurse to patient would be extremely rare and could happen regardless of wether the nurse was wearing gloves or not. i do agree that basic hygiene (handwashing or alcohol based gel) should be practiced before a nurse even touches the patient. i took blood in the UK for 15 years and never wore gloves unless the patient asked for it, the reason was i practiced good basic hygiene and wearing gloves can actually hinder finding the best vein as sensation is dulled...... i would definitely not be worried about no glove wearing but i would be asking for the blood taker to wash their hands before and after the procedure
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:07
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

Though I find the nurse without gloves disturbing (she might get infected with something in your blood), I have no problem with burgers being prepared without gloves, or having a butcher only using a metal glove on one hand.

Might have to do with having being raised (healthy) in a 3rd world gloveless country...
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:07
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

I too was surprised by the casual handling of blood here in Europe. They just don't seem to have the same HIV, Hep B, etc scare like they do in California.

If anything, I'd think healthcare workers would be protecting themselves like crazy before the blood is even tested!
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:07
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

Just curious but why should gloves be worn to take a blood sample? It's not exactly a surgical procedure and the risk of any kind of contamination would be negligible. It's only a pin prick after all.

Are gloves in a non-sterile box somehow cleaner than a pair of washed hands?
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:12
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

Do any of you think that latex gloves will stop a nurse being poked by a needle and potentially getting infected with some nasties in your blood?

Not wearing gloves makes it easier to handle something as delicate as taking blood IMO
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:14
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

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Though I find the nurse without gloves disturbing (she might get infected with something in your blood), I have no problem with burgers being prepared without gloves, or having a butcher only using a metal glove on one hand.
I find it utterly bizarre that anyone should expect their food preparer to wear gloves. Do you wear gloves at home in your own kitchen? No, you don't, even if you're preparing food for guests. What you do is ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly before (and between) food handling activities. If it's good enough for home, why shouldn't it be good enough for a restaurant?

Don't forget that a chef wearing gloves can still wipe his face with them, or fail to change them between different tasks, or many other much worse scenarios. I'd much rather they focus on proper hand-washing, TYVM.
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:15
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

I've just come from my first visit with a new dentist and I have to say... I was very impressed.... nice big waiting room....and all of the dentists work areas ( there are 4 I think ) were spotless.

and as for the hygenist... *phooooar* ... she can do anything she wants with that little water jet thing, and oh.. the way she says "rinnnnse"
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:18
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

Was it disconcerting to have to step over all those dead bodies in the waiting room, with all the other patients who had died from the food poisoning they caught from Burger King or from the blood-borne infections they'd picked up in the doctor's office?

The truth is that we don't live in a sterile world and our bodies are designed to cope with a certain level of germs. The skin is an incredibly good barrier against infection. As the chap at Burger King prepares your sandwich, remember he's just as likely to infect you if he sneezes on his (gloved) hand as he is if he sneezes on his (ungloved) hand. Numerous studies have shown that ungloved kitchen workers, properly trained in food hygiene, are actually safer as they tend to be more fastidious about washing their hands when they get dirty than gloved workers, who might not notice.

I assume that you don't glove up at home when preparing food, and yet have managed not to poison your family in the process?

I admit that I was a little surprised the first time I came across a nurse here taking blood without wearing gloves, but as the previous poster has noted, the gloves are for her benefit, not yours. Provided your arm was swabbed with alcohol and the blood taken with a sterile needle, the risk of infection is absolutely minimal.

How did this story end? Did your arm turn gangrenous and fall off? Or were you fine?
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:18
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

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the reason that nurses wear gloves to take blood is actually to protect themselves NOT the patient. A needlestick injury whilst taking blood is cause for concern for the nurse as she could be infected from whatever the patient may be carrying not vice versa as a needlestick injury from nurse to patient would be extremely rare and could happen regardless of wether the nurse was wearing gloves or not. i do agree that basic hygiene (handwashing or alcohol based gel) should be practiced before a nurse even touches the patient. i took blood in the UK for 15 years and never wore gloves unless the patient asked for it, the reason was i practiced good basic hygiene and wearing gloves can actually hinder finding the best vein as sensation is dulled...... i would definitely not be worried about no glove wearing but i would be asking for the blood taker to wash their hands before and after the procedure
Mrs. G. would agree there. She is a midwife and has to take blood / attach drips on an almost daily basis. She says it's easier to find a good vein without gloves, especially on some women where veins are especially difficult to locate.
As regards needle-stick injury risk; no a latex will not protect against a direct stab, but would certainly help prevent scratches from potentially contaminated needles.
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:19
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

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Don't forget that a chef wearing gloves can still wipe his face with them, or fail to change them between different tasks, or many other much worse scenarios. I'd much rather they focus on proper hand-washing, TYVM.
Agreed. I find hand washing to be of much more importance than wearing gloves.
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:21
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

I was born and raised in Switzerland and I must tell you I am a bit confused after your post. It made me think if any of the nurses at the doctors I have ever been to here wore gloves if they had to take my blood. Honestly I can't remember. I don't think it's something I ever paid attention to. It's just not something that I worry about. Same actually about gloves at Burger King and the likes. I used to work at Mc Donald's when I was younger and we had to wash the hands properly before we started working and to sanitise them but I don't think I ever wore gloves there either.

So yes this might actually be a cultural difference thing. But Swiss people live. They're not sick constantly so it can't be that bad really? I don't want to be disrespectful to you in any way but I really think that it's much more important that the needle they use to drain blood with is sanitised than that they are wearing gloves? I never felt uncomfortable about that at the doctors so don't worry too much about that. If you still do worry tell the nurse the next time in advance that you would like her to use gloves that you know that it might not be necessary but that it does make you feel better. I am sure she won't object to your wish.
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:22
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

I must be just be laid back about this but I'm not really bothered if someone's hands touches my food, it's not going to kill me, seriously, what is the worst that can happen? What is this obsession these days with everything being germ free?

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and everyone's immune system needs a bit of a test every now and again :-)
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:22
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

IMHO, a lot of hygiene issues are a bit overdone. Washing hands before preparing food or drawing blood is a very sensible thing to do, but gloves?! (As Sandgrounder observes quite correctly, these are usually stored in a non-sterile box, rather than in sterile pair-packings.)

Have you ever wondered, when shaking hands with somebody, whether (s)he operated a keyboard, mobile phone, cash money etc.?

It's all a matter of perception, of course, but being overly clean could even harm your resistance against bacteria...
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:23
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

Not that I've eaten in Burger King here (I don't like paying three times the price for something identical to what I can get elsewhere - it's not that I hate BK, I don't), but I would prefer someone with clean hands to prepare my food rather than someone who may or may not have washed their hands, putting them in unwashed gloves.

And anyway, had you not seen the person cooking your burger you would have eaten it.
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:23
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

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I find it utterly bizarre that anyone should expect their food preparer to wear gloves.
I hope you quoted me because you agree with my sentence, because that's what I was saying...

I have to say I can't cook with gloves. It's like using a freaking 5 fingered condom: I lose all sensitivity. A lot of dishes I prepare depend on the texture of the dough, which is impossible to notice when wearing gloves. I wash my hands more often than Pilatus when cooking though...
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Old 01.12.2011, 12:24
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Re: Hygiene at doctor's practice

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So yes this might actually be a cultural difference thing. But Swiss people live. They're not sick constantly so it can't be that bad really?
Thank you Mr. Spokesperson.
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