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Dog Bite and Hospital Waste (Nov08)

My son Rollo was bitten by a dog.  He was lucky to be wearing a glove because he ended up with a nasty gash between his thumb and his fingers, as well as having a number of puncture holes from the dog’s teeth.

The dog had been playing happily with a number of children who were building a camp fire and having fun in the woods.  Rollo leant down to turn over a dish that the terrier was licking, when he was attacked.   He had difficulty shaking the dog off and ended up quite shaken himself.

I wasn’t at the scene but went to pick him up – and took him to Bridport Hospital, to get the wound dressed and sterilised.   When we removed the slightly bloodied and dirty crepe bandage I thought I’d use it again.  The hospital nurse had other ideas.

 

“Put the bandage in the bin over there”, he said. “Oh, it’s alright” I replied, “I’m going to wash it”.  He looked as if I was mad and quietly insisted, pointing to the large receptacle, which was already quite full.   To my mind, it wasn’t a disposable bandage – it was like the bandages we had in our medicine cupboard as a child.  And they were washed many times. I told the nurse that I couldn’t throw it away myself but reluctantly let him do the dirty deed!  But far more shocking than that was the sheer quantity of waste produced from dressing the dog bite wound.

The steri-strips came in a large flat packet – the ones not used were discarded.  The plastic tweezers were used a couple of times and chucked away. And then there were several other dressing types, with multiple layers of packaging.  We ended up with a whole plastic bag full – yes the rubbish was put in a plastic bag before being put in the bin, which was lined with another plastic bag….

Of course I understand the need for hygiene and cleanliness in hospitals.  And that has to be a priority.  But I think the system has gone way over the top.  You can sterilise things by putting them in boiling water.  I’m absolutely certain that cutting waste in hospitals, whilst maintaining rigorous health and safety standards, wouldn’t be hard.

Furthermore, I discovered that the waste from Bridport Hospital went into an incinerator with no energy recovery.  I’m sure that’s very common.

Ten days on and Rollo’s wound is nearly better, although it still needs some dressing.  He’s not going to forget about being bitten by the dog but I think he’ll also remember the battle of the bandage!  I know my children are not alone in being embarrassed by their parents……

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