If stress drives you to the doctor’s office, bring along your own reading material.
Are you stressed by potential infections?
In times of flu or bacterial seasons, the public refers to these infections as “going around”. We in the medical profession think of them as “coming in” to our offices. That’s one reason why it is so important for patients and doctors to do all they can to be on guard at the office. But there is more to the story than just wearing disposable face masks (if you have a sore throat or cough) and using the hand sanitizers.
At the instigation of infectious disease control teams, hospitals are beginning to throw out any used newspapers or magazines in the waiting rooms, as they obviously are handled by lots of sick people.
Medical waiting rooms have long had deplorable reading materials, so old that they look like they fell off a truck. That alone should qualify them for the garbage. But when these are swabbed and cultured for bacteria, the infection teams find them to be as dirty as used tissue paper. So Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital is taking the step of removing their magazines, and suggesting that people bring their own reading materials (and instead of recycling them there, taking them home with them).
If there was ever a great advertisement for the benefits of modern technology, this would be it: “Stay healthy by reading digitally!”. In my offices now we routinely encourage patients to scroll through their email, read the news, or scroll through an e-book on their phone, i-pad, or kindle. Gone are the tattered magazines full of stale stories and fresh bacteria. While transmitting and receiving calls can play havoc with some medical machines, the simple reading function causes no harm.
So when flu season starts driving you into the doctor’s office, remember to bring along your digital reading material, and skip the staphylococcal magazines. There’s more to avoiding contagion than just using the hand sanitizer and face mask! And one more thing, we doctors are all reminded to try to be on time, as a full waiting room is just an incubator for troubles!
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