Religion Gone Wild: British medical students claim hygene rules violate their religious beliefs
This photo has nothing to do with nurses or hospitals. It's got a religious element, though, which is good enough for me.
From the Telegraph:
Muslim medical students are refusing to obey hygiene rules brought in to stop the spread of deadly superbugs, because they say it is against their religion.
Women training in several hospitals in England have raised objections to removing their arm coverings in theatre and to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands, because it is regarded as immodest in Islam. Universities and NHS trusts fear many more will refuse to co-operate with new Department of Health guidance, introduced this month, which stipulates that all doctors must be "bare below the elbow". The measure is deemed necessary to stop the spread of infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, which have killed hundreds.
Well, this is a clear case of religion gone wrong. Like the American pharmacists who refuse to distribute birth control and RU-486, these medical students are asking for permission to endanger public health. If your religion prevents you from washing your hands, you shouldn't be a doctor. If it prevents you from filling prescriptions, you shouldn't be a pharmacist. But while pharmacists in the US are allowed to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, authorities in the UK have taken a more sensible approach:
Dr Mark Enright, professor of microbiology at Imperial College London, said: "To wash your hands properly, and reduce the risks of MRSA and C.difficile, you have to be able to wash the whole area around the wrist. I don't think it would be right to make an exemption for people on any grounds. The policy of bare below the elbows has to be applied universally."
Dr Charles Tannock, a Conservative MEP and former hospital consultant, said: "These students are being trained using taxpayers' money and they have a duty of care to their patients not to put their health at risk. Perhaps these women should not be choosing medicine as a career if they feel unable to abide by the guidelines that everyone else has to follow."
The American anti-sex crusaders have Pharmacists for Life International to fight for the God-given right to endanger endanger public health, and the hypermodest medical students of the UK have the Islamic Medical Association. The IMA offered an implausible apologia for not properly scrubbing, and a completely impractical compromise:
"No practising Muslim woman - doctor, medical student, nurse or patient - should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow," it said. Dr Majid Katme, the association spokesman, said: "Exposed arms can pick up germs and there is a lot of evidence to suggest skin is safer to the patient if covered. One idea might be to produce long, sterile, disposable gloves which go up to the elbows."
If that's the best argument that the forces of irrationality can make, then I'm confident that common sense will prevail this time around.
***Bonus Material! Woo!***
President Bush talks about Plan B on August 26, 2006:
PRESIDENT'S REMARKS TO EVANGELICAL PHARMACISTS ASSOCIATION LAMENTING FDA APPROVAL OF "PLAN B" SLUT VITAMINS
(cross posted at appletree)