As promoters of health and healing, hospital employees must be cognizant of how all their actions at work affect patients. Washing hands frequently is one obvious example of best practices for maintaining patient health, but there are less apparent practices in the hospital that could use improving. These include serving unhealthy food in patient rooms and the cafeteria and using cleaning products with dangerous chemicals. While clinicians are not directly responsible for these practices, they can have great influence in changing them. In our cover story, we discuss how clinicians, administrators and others at more than 700 hospitals have made a commitment to health and environmental sustainability through the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, launched in April 2012. From onsite farmers' markets to device reprocessing, these various efforts to realize a holistic vision of health—including environmental health—are truly inspiring.
Speaking of conservation of resources, one of our conference coverage stories provides tips on things you may be doing in clinical practice which are, in fact, unnecessary—like ordering a carotid Doppler on syncope patients. The piece on “non-evidence-based medicine” is the first of five recapping sessions from the Society of Hospital Medicine's annual meeting in May. Other topics in this conference coverage section include gastroparesis, infectious disease pearls, patient satisfaction, and psychotropic drugs.
On a lighter note, we examine the importance—or not—of attire in the hospital. Aside from the obviously critical issue of wearing duds that minimize germ transmission, clothes can potentially signal to patients a level of authority and professionalism that influences patient satisfaction. Some believe, however, that clothes are a negligible factor, dwarfed by the much more important issues of communication and competence.
We'd love to hear your opinions on sporting tattoos and piercings on the wards—or any other issue. Please write to us.
Editor, ACP Hospitalist