July 5th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

Today's editorial on Hospital Caused Death (NYT, July 5, 2006, p: A18 omitted another important step that Hospitals could take to improve patient health: washing hands between patients.

Hospital born/borne infections may not cause death but they do greatly prolong hospital stays. It is unbelievable that almost two hundred years after Semelweiss discovered how germs were transmitted in hospitals, many doctors and nurses do not wash their hands between patients. As a result it has been estimated that about 1.8 million patients contact hospital induced infections each year (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

In the fast based hospital of today with the emphasis on throughput, there must be time given for doctors and nurses to wash their hands, even if gloved, between patients.