Muslim medics refuse to roll up sleeves in hygiene crackdown

Muslim medics refuse to roll up their sleeves in hygiene crackdown - because it's against their religion

Extract from Daily Mail 26 February 2008

Health officials are having crisis talks with Muslim medical staff who have objected to hospital hygiene rules because of religious beliefs.

Medics in hospitals in at least three major English cities have refused to follow the regulations aimed at helping tackle superbugs because of their faith, it has been revealed.

Women medical students at Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool objected to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands and removing arm coverings in theatre, claiming it is regarded as immodest.

Similar concerns were raised at Leicester University and Sheffield University reported a case of a Muslim medic refusing to "scrub" because it left her forearms exposed.

Some students have said that they would prefer to quit the course rather than expose their arms, but hygiene experts said no exceptions should be made on religious grounds.

A Royal Liverpool hospital spokesman said they had experienced issues of Muslim staff not sanitising their forearms with alcohol gel although this had now been addressed.

Dr Steve Ryan, medical director at Alder Hey said that while the "bare below the elbows" dress code is a matter of patient safety, the trust would work with Muslim students to find a solution.

He said: "We specify bare below elbows, no wrist watches, nail varnish or false nails in clinical areas.

"Good hand hygiene is one of the most important and simplest actions we can take to prevent healthcare associated infections.
"Extract from Daily Mail"

There's your problem. I'm Outraged.
Sounds good. As medical staff, they of all people should know that bacteria doesn't give a toss which sky fairy you believe in.

If you allow the safety of your patient to be compromised by your personal beliefs, that seems to me to be grossly inappropriate and negligent, and perhaps people of this mindset would be best off outside the health service.
This really is the most ridiculous state of affairs. Last night there was a TV prog about sex change surgery in the Islamic Republic of Iran - the surgeon and his team, incl females, were shown scrubbing up in the usual manner pre op; forearms fully exposed, plenty of disinfectant solution up to & including elbows etc etc.. So, clearly no problem there.

Just to be sure, I phoned my friendly local Imam re this "issue". There is nothing remotely "unIslamic" in exposing the arms, or for that matter any other area of the body, in order to ensure good infection control/ asepsis for medical procedures. He was of the view that these are "vexatious idiots" who are misusing religion for their own selfish ends, and as such are bringing Islam into disrepute. They should, in his opinion, be suspended immediately, and if necessary sacked/ kicked off courses. Here, here, say I!

He made the observation that Muslim physicians & surgeons were routinely accustomed to washing hands/ arms in vinegar wine prior to patient contact for centuries before Western medics even began to realise that wearing blood & pus encrusted coats when operating was not a terribly good thing. He finds it incredible, and very frustrating, that there's even a debate about accommodating such individuals in our hospitals/ medical schools - they should be told to shut up, follow established procedures, or got rid of.
Another attention-seeking exercise by British Muslims. In Bangladesh, for example, Muslim women traditionally wear short sleeves, same in Egypt...

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