Weekly Poll: Hospital bans magazines from waiting rooms to avoid infection

By: November 22nd, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

A hospital in Toronto removed  magazines from the waiting room in order to prevent the spread of infection.

Do you think other healthcare facilities should follow this example?

Click on the links below to take the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and to see the results.

Click here to take the poll.

View poll results here.


How about we remove all door nobs and take down all doors so you don’t have to touch them. What about the pen used at the reception desk? I vote for disposable stethiscopes that would be thrown away after each patient. We could continue on this path quite a ways.

Alcohol sanitizers placed in the waiting room are the answer. If you sanitize after handling something someone else has handled, your chances of getting a disease are reduced significnatly. (90+ percent if used properly)

Since there is no way to disinfect a magazine if someone has used it to cover a cough or sneeze, our facilities removed magazines and books from the waiting rooms last year during the H1N1 outbreak. We encouraged patients to bring their own and take them back home again. The patients don’t seem to mind, and neither does the staff who has to straighten up at the end of a long day.

After performing our quarterly environmental cultures, we found that the bacteria harbored on magazines in the lobby were quite a bit more extensive than those in all of the other common areas of our clinics combined. It is the facility’s preference whether to offer magazines in the lobby; from a health care worker’s standpoint it would aid in decreasing the spread of infection (and also daily clean up). Offering hand sanitizer, cleaning daily with Sani-wipes and using proper housekeeping procedures will also decrease the spread of infection in the waiting areas. Offer masks for contagious patients, have separate areas for “sick” and “well” patients if possible, change clipboards to a plastic non-porous material for easier wipe downs and spray the pen cup with Lysol at the end of the day.

But supplying all of these materials is only half of the solution; education is the other half. Educate your patients on the importance and proper ways of hand washing and using hand sanitizer gel after handling items not only in the healthcare setting but also at home and out in the community.
As far as the stethoscope, a proactive physician should cleanse their scope with an alcohol prep in the presence of the patient or apply a glove over it before application to the patient and explain why they are doing it; “for the protection of the patient.”

I believe in appropriate measures for infection control. That is what I do. But there is a limit as to what can be reasonalby done. I believe this is overkill. Infection control has its limits and this is one. Appropriate in an outbreak situation…maybe, but not in normal situations. I read about, and find it fascinating, that as this country has gone wild with a sanitize everything mentality, that our children have developed more allergies, asthma, autism, etc., compared to 3 world nations!


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