Warwick, RI– The student nurse stared nervously at the blood-red line bisecting the hallway. Scrub hat and surgical mask, check. Full breakfast and adequate hydration to prevent passing out and taking a bite of floor tile during surgery, check. With a deep breath, he crossed the threshold, only to be immediately accosted by chief irrelevant safety and nursing compliance officer Percival Prichard, BA.
“No shoe covers on your feet!? Since this is your first offense, your caning with candy cane stirrups will only be mild to moderate. Take him away!”
Percival’s voice sounded muffled, probably because of the shoe cover strategically placed over his scraggly mustache. Strategically, but not precariously, because his second and third chin clamped on one end of the shoe cover with a vise-like grip. As the orderlies and techs shuffled the sobbing student nurse to the beating room (Room 13), Percival adjusted his safety visors with a double-gloved hand and launched into a polished soliloquy on universal precautions.
“Data clearly shows that the more disposable items placed on the human body in the OR, the more the rest of the world falls behind in health care. At the mere cost of a lot of money, not only can we thwart VRE before it crawls from the grocery store to little Jimmy’s tonsillectomy incision, but we can ascribe individual worth by the amount of paper products worn rather than by scrub size or initials following a last name. It’s a similar philosophy to that of Multi-Organ System Failure Clinics–rather than wasting time deciding which organs to treat or what protective gear is needed for a certain case, pile it all on. Especially the shoe covers.”
Surprisingly, not everyone shared his opinion that germs can be simply stamped out by shoe covers. Most of the perioperative staff were unavailable to comment due to mandatory Hibiclens and Chloracept bathtime, so next stop was the nursing floors. Sweat-soaked telemetry nurse Jackie Jacobs fanned herself with a fracture pan (bedpans for people you can’t wedge a regular sized model under) as we talked. Our interview was brief as Jackie needed to sign consent for rather intimate MRSA swabbing of her perspiration.
“What happened to that boy is ridiculous. Look at me! I’m wearing a mask, goggles, and a polyester gown the shade of a 70’s bridesmaid’s dress underneath this mandatory paper gown, all because this patient is under C. diff precautions for admitting in the ER that En Fuego Taco Bombs make his butt sputter. If you wash your hands after eating and eliminating a Taco Bomb, that’ll do more good than all the shoe covers in the world!”
With a distinct crinkle, the nursing student walked by, exhibiting no ill effects from the caning. Jackie shrugged.
“Protective mesh underwear cushions the blows.”