Jane Bates: Nanny knows best

Jane Bates argues the case for a bit more nannying

Jane Bates argues the case for a bit more nannying

Picture: iStock

The patient presented at our clinic with a rip-roaring eye infection, ten days post-surgery. ‘Can I have some antibiotics?’ he asked.

There was something not quite right here. ‘Didn’t we give you antibiotic drops after your operation?’ I asked, knowing full well that we had. ‘To prevent infection?’

He attempted a devil-may-care wink, but it was too painful. ‘Oh yes, he said, ‘but I didn’t use them. I’m a man,' he explained, with a twinkle in the eye that was still functioning. ‘You know what we men are like. We just don’t play by the rules.’

Okay, Dirty Harry

A Dirty Harry attitude is hard to maintain when a part of your body is red, sore and weeping pus, so we let that one go. Okay – we rolled our eyes at each other and sighed theatrically.

We all beat ourselves up when a patient gets a post-operative infection. Our practice is examined minutely, and surgeons lose sleep. But so much is out of our control, such as patient compliance with medication, their honesty about other conditions and their personal hygiene.

Mists of time

Way back in the mists of time, before day case surgery became common practice, patients would come in the night before and we would ensure they had a shower and were properly prepared for their operation. We observed them for lurking bugs and ensured they took their medication afterwards. Nannying, maybe, but it lessened their chances of infection.

Now we put the onus on the patient to act sensibly, which sounds fair on paper but is a risk which probably costs the NHS a small fortune. As demonstrated by our pus-eyed maverick. Bring back nanny, that’s what I say.

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire



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