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Pertinacious Habit on a Rehabilitation Unit: Repetitive Finger Licking While Paging Through the Clinical Chart

LaBan, Myron M. MD, MMsc; Singh, Jitendra MD; Moll, Victoria RN, BSN, CIC; Zervos, Marcus J. MD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: January 2004 - Volume 83 - Issue 1 - p 75-78
doi: 10.1097/01.PHM.0000078187.72286.49
Brief Report

LaBan MM, Singh J, Moll V, Zervos MJ: Pertinacious habit on a rehabilitation unit: Repetitive finger licking while paging through the clinical chart. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2004;83:75–78.

A survey was performed to determine the frequency of unrecognized repetitive licking of fingers while reviewing hospital charts by various healthcare professionals who, by this habit, may be putting themselves at risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection. Nine of 14 charts demonstrated the presence of Staphylococci aureus, cultures obtained from three of nine charts grew methicillin-resistant S. aureus, and six grew methicillin-susceptible S. aureus. Of the 50 healthcare professionals surveyed, five (10%) admitted to habitual repetitive licking of fingers while reviewing charts. In addition, 30 (60%) of those surveyed had observed other professionals doing so. Forty-seven (94%) acknowledged that they did not routinely wash their hands after reviewing the charts, potentially placing themselves at risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection. As an immediate consequence of this study, staff members have been encouraged to wash their hands before and after reviewing a patient’s chart.

From the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (MML, JS), Epidemiology (VM), and Infectious Diseases (MJZ), William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan.

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Myron M. LaBan, MD, MMsc, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, William Beaumont Hospital, 3601 W. Thirteen Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.