No more reading in the hospital waiting room—stare at the wall and don’t touch a thing

By: November 15th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

What do you do in a hospital waiting room? Staring at the algae covered fish tank gets boring after a while so you switch to watching the baby run around in nothing but a diaper, which can only hold your attention so long. But to your left is a giant basket full of magazines: People, Woman’s Day, National Geographic, and Health. Jackpot.

Flipping through magazines usually makes time fly by as you wait, but in a recent article published by CBC News in Canada, one hospital is banning magazines in waiting rooms to avoid the spread of germs.

Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital is in the spotlight. Michael Gardam is the director of infection prevention and control for Toronto’s University Health Network and favors the banning of magazines.

“If you’ve got somebody who’s in isolation because they’ve got C. difficile or some other super bug, and they’re reading that magazine, you don’t really want to put that back on the rack for another person,” he said to CBC News.

Gardam also questioned the disinfecting of magazines, pointing out that there is no easy way to do it, said CBC News.

How about toys in the waiting room for children? OSHA Healthcare Advisor published a post pertaining to guidelines for keeping toys in a waiting room.

Waiting rooms aren’t the only area scrutinized for infection control. Check out the physician practice infection control checklist on the Tools page.

Is the hospital being too strict in taking away the magazines that help pass the time in waiting rooms ? What sort of actions can healthcare settings take to avoid the spread of infectious disease? Let us know in the comment section below.

Infection Control Manual for the Physician’s Office. Learn how to stop an outbreak before it spreads. Primary care physicians will be on the front lines to detect, treat and manage an infectious disease outbreak when it hits. Understand how infection control (IC) applies to the ambulatory process and the steps physicians and their staff should take to protect patients, staff from the spread of infectious diseases.


One might bring one’s own reading matter and touch nothing else in the waiting area. However, this is quite unrealistic. We touch doorknobs, chairs, clipboards and attached pens, paper forms, monitor screens for practices who use touch screens, the faucet lever for the water dispenser, the button on the drinking fountain, etc..
How about posting hand hygiene reminders and providing hand sanitizing solution for frequent use in the waiting area. Reception staff can also verbally remind patients as they process them upon arrival.

By W.F. Vincent on November 17th, 2010 at 8:41 am

The next thing you know they will be banning toilet paper from the restrooms!

Thanks R. Onarato for a little sanity to this dilema. It is one thing to be concerned about toys in waiting areas being cleanable with disinfectants on a routine basis. Children, esp. young ones, do not have good hygiene and often toys are not only touched but mouths are on them. To ban reading material is pointless and unnecessary. We also have germs in our community- should we ban libraries next? After all, their books and magazines recirculate also. How about books in secondary education? Should we require each eyar to have them purchased by the parents or bought by the schools? With some schools already in the red and an econmy in the toilet, think of the cost that would add.

Has no one learned anything from the misuse & overuse of antibiotics?
We are creating a race of weak humans!
Paranoid about every little germ and the millions of ways they can be spread.
Is it really necessary to have antibacterial wipes at the grocery store?
Maybe we should all wear astronaut space suits. That ought to do the trick!

By Jeanette RJ on November 18th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Simple and very practical advice … Keep your hands away from your face to avoid the transmission of germs from things you have touched! As for air-borne transmission, I guess we could all wear masks 🙁


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