UK: Medical students refusing to follow new hygiene rules

Muslim medical students are refusing to obey hygiene rules brought in to stop the spread of deadly superbugs, because they say it is against their religion.

Women training in several hospitals in England have raised objections to removing their arm coverings in theatre and to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands, because it is regarded as immodest in Islam.

Universities and NHS trusts fear many more will refuse to co-operate with new Department of Health guidance, introduced this month, which stipulates that all doctors must be "bare below the elbow".

The measure is deemed necessary to stop the spread of infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, which have killed hundreds.

Minutes of a clinical academics' meeting at Liverpool University revealed that female Muslim students at Alder Hey children's hospital had objected to rolling up their sleeves to wear gowns.

Similar concerns have been raised at Leicester University. Minutes from a medical school committee said that "a number of Muslim females had difficulty in complying with the procedures to roll up sleeves to the elbow for appropriate handwashing".

Sheffield University also reported a case of a Muslim medic who refused to "scrub" as this left her forearms exposed.

Documents from Birmingham University reveal that some students would prefer to quit the course rather than expose their arms, and warn that it could leave trusts open to legal action.

Hygiene experts said last night that no exceptions should be made on religious grounds.

Dr Mark Enright, professor of microbiology at Imperial College London, said: "To wash your hands properly, and reduce the risks of MRSA and C.difficile, you have to be able to wash the whole area around the wrist.

"I don't think it would be right to make an exemption for people on any grounds. The policy of bare below the elbows has to be applied universally."

Dr Charles Tannock, a Conservative MEP and former hospital consultant, said: "These students are being trained using taxpayers' money and they have a duty of care to their patients not to put their health at risk.

"Perhaps these women should not be choosing medicine as a career if they feel unable to abide by the guidelines that everyone else has to follow."

But the Islamic Medical Association insisted that covering all the body in public, except the face and hands, was a basic tenet of Islam.

"No practising Muslim woman - doctor, medical student, nurse or patient - should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow," it said.

Dr Majid Katme, the association spokesman, said: "Exposed arms can pick up germs and there is a lot of evidence to suggest skin is safer to the patient if covered. One idea might be to produce long, sterile, disposable gloves which go up to the elbows."

Source: Telegraph (English), h/t UP Pompei

See also: UK: Birmingham Hospital bans veil


Anonymous said...

This threat of MRSA is real. Patients as well as doctors are at risk unlike HIV & Hepatitis.

This refusal to wash and scrub their hands will leave the doctors or medical students at risk of carrying MRSA home and spreading this micro-organism to their family and children.

All that we need to do as patients is to refuse being treated by a Muslim doctor or touched by Muslim medical student. This is similar to Indian higher cast people not allowing untouchables to enter their home because the untouchables refused to wash themselves after cleaning toilets. They were spreading the germs which infected health adults and children.

Only worry, I have is when people start treating all Asians to be Muslims, when there are Indians who are not Muslims, Afrocarabians who could be Muslims and Egyptians who look like Caucasians are Muslims.

Nature has its way of cleansing the society, this is one of the ways and I am sure there are a few more to come.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I respect the feelings of Muslims, I also respect that the Koran instructs cleanliness or Wadu. This involves the washing of the arms up to the elbow before prayer. This was the will of the prophet and was advanced thinking in the seventh century. Since it was solely for cleanliness and not for any other reason, then surely this present day modesty can take second place?
It is a shame that a religion that has given mankind so much culture and science in the past, is now retreating backwards into the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Surely Muslims obey the commandments of God?
I am sure that God said "You shall not take the name of God in vain?"
Then why do Muslims use the "Word of God" to give themselves an excuse to cover what God made and to ignore what God has allowed us humans to discover? I mean, we were given "Free Will" by God to search for him and not to listen to the false prophesy of the !Mad Mullas"

Anonymous said...

lol religion.

runningbare said...

Seems like a lot of people die in the name of religion...