Religion vs. infection control: issue #4
We have previously blogged about Muslim women who refuse to follow "bare below the elbows" due to the prohibition of having their arms uncovered, the Catholic phlebotomist in England who was sanctioned for wearing a crucifix under her clothing, and the concern in the Church of England regarding transmission of influenza via the communion chalice. Now another issue has arisen. Some Muslim healthcare workers in the UK are refusing to use alcohol-based hand hygiene products when caring for patients with H1N1 influenza on the basis of the Koran forbidding Muslims to come into contact with alcohol. Others are claiming the Koran allows the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes. It seems to me that this issue could be quickly resolved by allowing healthcare workers to wash their hands with another product that does not contain alcohol. CDC currently recommends the use of either an alcohol-based product or soap and water for hand hygiene when caring for patients infected with H1N1 influenza.