Bringing Work Home

Bringing My Work Home

This may be an odd way of saying that I bring my work home with me — but as a patient safety advocate, focusing on helping the families and friends of patients understand and prevent unplanned outcomes in healthcare – I can truly say I am bringing work home with me.  Let me share with you why.

When I meet the patient’s family member (or support person) at the hospital, I watch as they want to hold the person’s hand as soon as they enter the room.  They may want to give the patient a kiss, leaning over the bedrail.  I remind them that they too carry germs.  As they search for something useful to do, I suggest that they can wipe down items that may have been touched by hospital staff, visitors or even themselves, without realizing it.  So, I encourage them to wash their hands, get a pair of gloves and wipe down the tray table, the controls of the bed, the remote control, and around the sink.  The family might easily touch the bed’s rail, so they should be wiped down too. Is there a chair? Its arms, seat and back can also be wiped down.  Do the doors of the room and bathroom have knob or handles?  Sometimes people may touch the door in other places, so why not wipe the whole door down?

Now is a time to bring these practices home as well.  Think of what you touch.  I put a disinfectant wipe on the door knob to remind my family to clean it after entering and leaving.  I leave the wipes near the refrigerator, stove and microwave as a reminder to clean after touching.  The coffee machine, light switches, window cords and the remote control are touched. Do you each pull the kitchen chair away from the table by the back of it?  Then that needs to be cleaned constantly too.

You may be surprised at how many things you touch when you are home.  If you share your home with others who may need to go out, to work or to the store, no matter how long they are out, there is a chance they may pick up germs.

I have 20 years visiting people at the bedside taking note of what is touched; I never thought it would come in handy now.


Visit my website at to get a copy of the book Rants of a Patient Safety Advocate: Stories from the Bedside.

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Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education Advocacy