Infection Prevention: Seeing Isn’t Believing
I have a weak spot for magic tricks. When I was little, my best friend’s dad used to perform for us when I was at her house. I remember begging and pleading for the secrets behind the tricks because, even at age 5, I needed things to be logical and make sense.
And that’s why those tricks drove me up the wall. First of all, there’s no way a quarter could stay put behind my ear. Second, even if it could, there’s no way I wouldn’t notice it. Or what about that trick where a magician saws his assistant in half? How can I see her feet sticking out of one half, her head sticking out of the other half, and both halves still alive and kicking (one half literally kicking…)? You just can’t survive if your body is in two different places. It doesn’t make sense.
But sometimes, what you see isn’t what you should believe. Sometimes appearance isn’t reality, and reality isn’t appearance. Sometimes we have to look past appearances to really “see” clearly.
That sounds pretty twisted and cryptic doesn’t it? It’s confusing to explain on paper and even more confusing to adopt as a mindset.
My point is that we all struggle with separating appearance from reality, and that’s one of the obstacles holding us back in infection prevention.
If we don’t SEE any superbugs or bacteria, how do we know they are there?
Or if we SEE a nurse wipe the counter down, then it should be clean right?
And if we can’t SEE a difference between objects before and after UVC light disinfection or a difference between stainless steel and antimicrobial copper, how do we know they work?
If we base our logic on appearances, the rising rate of HAIs (Healthcare-Acquired Infections) doesn’t make sense at all. And if we base our logic on appearances, there’s no reason to change our current infection prevention practices
But, whether it makes sense or not, HAI rates ARE rising, and we DO need to change our current infection prevention practices.
So maybe we need to take a page out of the magician’s handbook and look past appearances.
Then we can SEE that just because it looks like the magician pulled a quarter from behind my ear doesn’t mean it actually happened. Then we can SEE that just because it looks like that assistant was sawed in half doesn’t mean she actually was.
Then we can SEE that just because it looks like there aren’t any superbugs or bacteria present doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Then we can SEE that just because something looks clean doesn’t mean it is. Then we can SEE the difference that using UVC light or antimicrobial copper makes.
Now let’s get one thing straight. I’m not trying to say infection prevention is a magic trick. Preventing the spread of germs and bacteria requires more effort and technology than could ever be pulled out of a top hat. But, like magic, it does require us to look past appearances to “see” the truth. And, in infection prevention, the truth is worth a whole lot more than a hidden quarter behind my ear.