NEW YORK – In a bold move, the Mount Sinai Health System unveiled its new plan to reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections: requiring all healthcare professionals who interact with patients to rinse their noses with neti pots before and after patient encounters. Chandra Mohan Jain, PhD, MPH and one of the hospital administrators, is spearheading the effort.
“We’ve all heard of the benefits of hand washing in preventing the spread of the common cold, the flu, pneumonia, C. Diff, and so on. I was interested in eliminating a major receptacle of viruses, bacteria, and fungus, the nose. Also the nose is just a disgusting place filled with mucus and secretions, essentially gross boogers. Things like the common cold and influenza are major public health epidemics! So we looked for a cheap and effective solution to reduce these infection rates and neti pot irrigation was the answer,” commented Dr. Jain.
The nasal passages are colonized with deadly bacteria such as Streptococcus, Haemophilus, and Moraxella, in addition to a variety of insidious viruses such as rhinovirus and coronavirus.
Dr. Jain’s new protocol calls for all residents and attendings in clinic to rinse their nasal passages with isopropyl alcohol before and after seeing every patient, in addition to hand washing.
Per Dr. Jain: “It will sterilize their noses and secretions, thus eliminating another pathway for infection. And it will only add three to four minutes per patient interaction. Very easy to pull off when seeing around twenty to thirty patients in clinic.”
But what about patients performing their own nasal irrigation or downsides such as the smell or the possible health effects on the doctors? Dr. Jain is not concerned, stating, “We would never force the patients to do such a thing, but we do have control of the physicians. Here at Mt. Sinai, the doctors should realize that we do whatever it takes to keep patients safe, including sacrificing their nasal passages for public health.”