When infection control and religion collide

The BBC News reports today that a healthcare worker in the UK is facing disciplinary action because she wears a cross around her neck on a chain, which is reported to impose an infection control risk. This is not the first time that infection control and religion have crossed paths in the UK. Last year a female Muslim healthcare worker was fired becaused her faith does not allow women to show their arms in public and her long sleeves violated the hospital's bare below the elbow policy. While the UK's serious attitude about infection control is noteworthy, the actions beg the question as to whether some reasonable accomodations could be made for observant workers (e.g., plastic isolation gowns for patient contact, ensuring that necklace chains are short to prevent jewelry from coming into contact with patients). If the UK's National Health Service continues its strident approach, then infection control will have become a religion unto itself.


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