The Hospital Elevator Button

So I was at the Hospital yesterday and they have anti bacterial foam dispensers strategically placed throughout the halls and common areas (in rooms too). This is a good thing for folks and especially for me.

You see, I’ve always applied the personal touch in my approach towards the families and patients with whom I visit and interact with. Ours is a ‘peoples business.’ We care for people (not widgets) and we heal people.

Therefore, I am a big believer in shaking hands and being ‘hands-on.’ The formal and impersonal approach actually repulses me. I cannot conceive being detached when interacting with people, especially those who are sick and compromised and require a greater degree of compassion.

There are a number of honorable professions to pursue, which do not require any level of interpersonal skills and I’ve long said that a stoic person who isn’t inherently compassionate doesn’t belong in healthcare.

Once in awhile, I’ll be reproached by a colleague in the industry for not being careful enough with germs and the like. However, it’s not that I’m not careful. On the contrary, I am very mindful, which is why I make sure to Purell often, but never to sacrifice the personal touch in favor of misplaced circumspection.

Actually, it’s no secret that hospitals are dirty places. hospital-acquired infections, like C. diff, are and everyday objects on the wards—from white coats to ultrasound equipment—are well-known harborers of bacteria.

Now, a new study in the journal Open Medicine has revealed a little-known germ hotspot: the hospital elevator button.

The research, conducted by three physicians, compared the amounts of bacteria living on 120 elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces at three hospitals in Toronto, Ontario.

To find out just how the dirty hospital surfaces were, the researchers acted like Holmesian microbe hunters, swabbing elevator buttons, and the handles of bathrooms stalls and toilet flushers.

A lab technician—blinded to the source of the samples and purpose of the study—then examined them.

The results will surely lift elevator buttons to the same ick-factor status as waiting-room magazines or hotel TV remote-controls: the elevator buttons were much dirtier than the toilet surfaces. “The prevalence of colonization (with bacteria) of elevator buttons was 61 percent,” the study reads. On the toilets, it was 43 percent.

Yes, I’m plenty careful!

Especially when I visit the hospitals.

Centre For Addiction And Mental Health


Leave a Reply