This week there has been an outbreak of H1N1 in one of the wards of the hospital I work at. They quarantined the ward (no new patients, only staff that we necessary for patient care and only close family visitors). While H1N1 has been largely a mild disease this outbreak is where the kidney transplant kids (among others) stay.
I have always been pretty good about washing my hands at the hospital. I was quite proud of myself for going through all of clerkship without picking up any nasty bugs. But this outbreak has given me (and I think a lot of the other staff as well) considerable pause. While many of us might have previously been inclined to work through illnesses or gripe about how long it takes to "gown up", everyone is reaching for the hand sanitizer after and before every patient now. It is great that everyone is taking infection control more seriously now, and it will definitely decrease passing infection between patients.
There are already 5 residents off on sick leave. They will all be gone for at least 5 days to prevent spreading infection to any other patients (so far there are only two confirmed infected patients). This is creating havoc with the call schedules. I think the chief residents have doubled their grey hairs in the past week.
It also makes me think of Harold. I am now responsible to stay healthy to take care of him as well as to prevent passing a bug along to my patients.
But H1N1 is now a community acquired infection. Many of the kids I see in emergency (my present placement) most likely have it. We don't even considering testing for it unless the patient has to come into hospital. Most people with the infection aren't even being seen by doctors.
Now that Harold is in daycare he has a good chance of picking it up regardless of what I do. And if he does, I am probably not far behind. The only up side would be that I no longer have to feel bad about staying home when I am sick.