Medical facilities across the world have standard rules of operation for all medical staff. Some of the rules include having no clothing or unshaven hair below the elbow and the elimination of wearing jewelry on during surgical procedures. The rules were designed to lessen the spread of MRSA-Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aurous and Clostridium difficile.
Yet Muslim staff are allow to circumvent the rules due to their religious faith guidelines, placing both the hospital and their patients, at risk for either one of these highly deadly diseases. Is this right or fair for all other medical staff that must comply with the medical protocol or risk losing their resident rights at the facility? This article will examine both sides of this issue, for both the medical community and the deep religious convictions of the Muslim faith.
Muslim faith requires that female be covered from the forearms up. Also, the religion teaches that it is immodest for women who practice Islam and against their religion to allow for the forearms to show, for any reason, including for hygiene medical practices. Hygiene professionals insist that no exceptions should be made for religious or other reasons.
“We specify bare below elbows, no wrist watches, nail varnish or false nails in clinical areas,” Steve Ryan, Alder Hey’s medical director in Liverpool, noted with in a recent Fox News article. “Good hand hygiene is one of the most important and simplest actions we can take to prevent health care-associated infections.”
Mixing of religion within the workplace can be an oxy-moron for employers. Medical facilities have to weigh the need for quality staff against, the need of an environment that does not promote breeding of bacterial infections. MRSA alone is one of the fastest growing infections in both the United States and the world.
Prior to 1990, MRSA accounted for two percent of the total number of staph infections. In 1995 the number increased to 22% and in 2004 it was 63%. 94,360 invasive MRSA infections occurred in the United States in 2005 with 18,650 of that were associated with death, according the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, medical facilities can face lawsuits, fines and other financial disputes for their staff hygiene practices, being a probable source of these types of infections.
Muslim staff would be wise to take into account not only the guidelines of their religious beliefs, but the deathly effects of infections like Clostridium Difficile and MRSA could have on their patients. Complications for bacteria based infections include Sepsis, which is a life-threating disease which an overreaction by the immune system causes destructive inflammation throughout the body. A sudden onset of Sepsis often leads to heart, total organ failure and death.
This falls out of the medical community Hippocratic Oath to do no harm to by holding up to medical standards within the community. In this case, allowing a religious doctrine to overstep a highly regarded sanitation technique is a little beyond what should be allowed within medical facilities.
Mayo Clinic Website-MRSA and Clostridium difficile-Websites
Fox News Article-3 Cities Fighting Hygiene Battle With Muslim Hospital Workers
Center of Disease Control and Prevention-Data and Statistics
The Injury Blog Network Article-“Sepsis: A Potentially Lethal Complication of Bacterial Infection” by Steve Silverman
National History of Medical Division, Nation Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health-The Hippocratic Oath