How to Interpret Confusing Pandemic Advice
Last week, I was on rounds in the hospital examining a patient. I listened to her heart, lungs, and bowel sounds with my stethoscope. I palpated her abdomen to check for pain or masses. I pressed on her lower legs to check for swelling. After reviewing her plan of care and fielding questions, I started to exit. As we were saying goodbye she extended her hand towards me. She abruptly stopped and said, “Oh, we’re not supposed to do that.” I reassured her that I wash my hands going in and out of the rooms and that it was ok for us to share a handshake.
As I closed the door to her room, alarms and airhorns sounded off in my type-A, left-brain consciousness. What just happened?!? That doesn’t make any sense. I can palpate a patient’s abdomen, but I can’t shake her hand? This wasn’t an isolated occurrence either. I’ve had multiple patients in the past few weeks do almost the exact same thing.
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