Dear Nurse Marge,
What do you do when you work with someone who is gross? I mean, really, really dirty? We have an aide who NEVER wears gloves — I’ve seen her pat down a bed to see ‘how wet it is’. Urine goes everywhere of course — but she doesn’t care!
I’m not sure if it’s bad luck or what, but I seem to ALWAYS be working with this aide. And I’ve got to tell you: it’s turning my stomach. I’m starting to dread going to work, just because who knows what she’s going to do next? What should I do?
Squeamish in San Diego
You’re talking about a delicate situation here, and I, of course, recommend the subtle approach. For example, when your aide smacks her hand down in a glistening yellow puddle, I recommend jumping a good eighteen inches to two feet backwards while yelping, “Holy mackerel! Are you trying to splatter me with biohazardous material or what, sister?” or “Dude, you might not mind smelling like a urinal, but that’s NOT for me!”
Other people might advocate a more direct approach, with some education about why it’s important to wear gloves, germ theory, the whole bit. I don’t buy it. By the time you’re out of diapers, you should be socialized enough to avoid playing with what’s normally found inside of them! She knows this behavior is unacceptable; she’s just used to no one calling her on it.
It might be smart to not do this in front of a patient — they might be even more squeamish than you are! But don’t be shy about bringing this up to management, because you’re not just dealing with something that makes you uncomfortable…you’re dealing with something that could make your patients very, very sick.