Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: Religion Gone Wild: British medical students claim hygene rules violate their religious beliefs

03 February 2008

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:


(cross posted at appletree)


Blogger erdla said...

As I commented over at Appletree this is identity politics and nothing more. We have plenty of Muslim doctors and nurses here in Denmark. Some of them are treating Du & my youngest child and have done so from the day he arrived. He needed emergency surgery and both the surgeon and some of the nurses and doctors treating him as he recovers are Muslims.

All of them observe basic rules of hygiene RIGOROUSLY. Bare arms hands and arms washed and then disinfected with surgical spirit, no rings, no watches.

This is just so pathetic and contemtible and shows complete ignorance of their religion's teachings on this. There are plenty of fatwas that medical need overrides other considerations. Like us their medical ethics are based on the principle:

"First do no harm"

8:21 pm  
Blogger Moon Rattled said...

More evidence that to be religious is to risk being a dimbulb. Look, people, if your religion tells you that rolling up your sleeves takes a higher priority than hospital hygiene, I recommend you go into another field. Christ.

Recently local government cracked down on cab drivers who wouldn't allow seeing eye dogs in their cabs because their religion tells them contact with dogs is forbidden.

I'm fed up with this crap.

9:24 pm  
Blogger Moon Rattled said...

I should add that this is not meant to sound like discrimination against Muslims, just crackpots. Societies have certain very reasonable and specific requirements for their professionals. Hygiene is incredibly important, especially now that we're seeing increases in staph infections and resistant bacteria. Hygiene - and the needs of people with disabilities - must take precedence over one's so-called religious beliefs.

9:27 pm  
Anonymous bootlean said...


Every area health authority should just write into the job description that the bare arms are a mandatory requirement. So should the Royal Colege of Nursing. Then anyone feeling they can NOT comply (on ANY grounds be they religious or anything else) should be told they're not suitable for the position. END.OF.

Imagine signing up to the armed services but saying you can't or won't follow orders. Imagine wanting a job as a lifeguard but saying you won't go into the water. Imagine applying for a position as a slaughterman but saying you won'r harm animals.

Like I said - CRAZY.

10:13 am  

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