What do you do about other patients' partners who come to treatments full of bugs?

This really irritates me. I was 30 mins into my third dose of carboplatin when the woman opposite's other half arrived. He then coughed and spluttered for the next 15 mins. No staff around to tell him to go away. Did he not know that all receiving treatment have compromised immune systems, and don't want to have to cope with the germs he's spreading?

What can you do with thoughtless (could have wriitten something more explicit) people like him?

Christine

18 Replies

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  • Hi Christine, I totally agree with you I try and stay away from anyone who is coughing or seems to have a cold. I have been lucky so far I have had 4 rounds of chemo and remained healthy. I was worried at first because I work in a restaurant so I mix with a lot of people. But then not many people would go for a meal if they are ill. Hope you don't encounter any more germs at your next chemo.

    Love and Best wishes Babs x x

  • Hi Christine,

    The only way is to politely ask him to leave, and explain why his presence worries you. I suspect he just has not realised the threat he presents to others. It would also be wise to talk to the chemo dept about it before your next treatment. It is their responsibility to make the treatment area safe for everyone.

    Best wishes,

    Isadora.

  • Hi Christine,

    Let's hope he didn't have a cold, for instance my husband has a cough most of the time but hasn't got a cold and he has never smoked, saying that I think it would have been quite reasonable to ask him, and if this was the case, to explain the position he was putting you and others in...my husband guarded me like a bull dog... even visitors that came to the house.... he would always ask if they were cold/virus/ tummy bug free.... it was quite embarrassing....it is disgraceful that there wasn't any staff around to deal with this.....wishing you all the very best love x G x :-)

  • Surely it's the responsibility of the staff who are in the area of treatment. Could you have a word with someone and ask them to deal with it if it happens again? I agree, it's not the right thing to do, spreading germs or bugs in a chemo dept. the staff there will probably be trained to deal with situations like this.

    All the best,

    Love Wendy xx

  • My friend is a Rhinologist and runs the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff University that researches colds , how they're spread and possible remedies.

    He told me there are millions of germs in the air and enough germs on a £1 coin to infect every perso in India. He also explained that toilet door knobs are another area that potentially spread infection. Apparently it's not so much coughs and sneezes that spread infections, nor people putting their fingers up their noses. It's poor hand hygiene and then people touching or rubbing a vulnerable area by the eyes. We actually infect ourselves from the bacteria found in the environment.

    He advises to wash your hands thoroughly as per instructions posted by all hospital washbasins - at least 10 times a day, and don't rub your inner eye (near the nose) as there are tiny ducts there that are vulnerable to infection. This is where the cold infection starts as the ducts infect and block up and close down the body's natural cleansing process. This leads to the blocked nose we all associate with a cold.

    According to Ron you should be more worried about food vendors handling products and then taking your money with bare hands than coughs, sneezes and snuffles. He runs a multi-million pound research centre so I've always assumed his advice is sound

    I hope this is reassuring. You might ask why there's not more hygiene publicity to help us avoid infections. I rather think it's not in the interests of the drug companies as they make a fortune out of cold remedies. Apparently they don't cure colds, they sensitize the inside of the nostrils so the small passage of air that does get through seems to have increased which makes us think we're better. He says the only thing that has actually been proven to temporarily increase the passage of air through the nose and therefore give a bit of relief is a hot curry.

    Hope this reassures some of you who are worried about infections, and maybe why the hospital didn't ask the man with the cough to leave. Of course anyone sneezing or coughing should cover their mouth out of courtesy and maintain hand hygiene.

    Xxxx Annie

  • Dear Annie

    I love your thorough answers! And yes, you have reassured me a bit, but of course he didn't cover his mouth, but seemed to aim at biggest broadcast possible away from his other half.

    Had a good curry yesterday though, and gargle daily with Corsodyl.

    Love Christine XX

  • Hi Christine!

    The Chemo area in Jimmy's in Leeds is never free of staff and I never saw anyone with anything resembling infection while I was having treatment. I also did not go to visit my friend who has Parkinsons when she broke her hips in two separate falls on the advice of both hospital and rehab unit after I explained that I had cancer and was on chemo!

    Many people, however do not seem to regard a cold as a risk because it is so minor for them. I made at least a couple of enemies that way! I live alone so was my own gate keeper!

    Do tell the hospital staff!

    Love M

  • Like Annie I am fanatic about hand hygiene! I carry antiseptic gel, have antiseptic handwash in kitchen & bathroom! I also have the gel in every room and the car! I still carry it and use it!

    M

  • possible had hay fever so much around at moment as you did not get what ever he had good news but i also hate coughing and spluttering where ever it is. you should have told the nurses yourself as soon as he started and they would have told him not to visit,best of luck with your chemo. hope all goes well for you.

  • Thanks to all for helpful comments. The treatment centre at The Christie is designed so that there aren't long vistas of patients receiving

  • Sorry mid-sentence. The down side of the long visitas is the staff aren't visible and they (the staff) can't see what's going on. Shouting to him across the room felt too aggressive, and I'm not mobile when on treatment because of iffy veins and canula failure if I move.

    The need for hand-washing is difficult to get across. Hubby rarely ventures further than tips of fingers briefly introduced to running water.

    Christine

  • I attend a Day Unit ( 9.00a.m.to 8.00p.m.)for my chemo. In the info. one receives at the beginning it states clearly that patients are welcome to bring a companion on their first visit but after that they would be able to leave the person and pick them up when their chemo. is finished. This seems to work quite well and patients and visitors simply see it as the customary way of things. The companions of those who come a distance get an approximate time for the patient to be finished and are free to go and spend the time as they wish - walking in the grounds, reading in the waiting area, going into town,etc.. The staff seem to use their discretion where someone continues to be very apprehensive and needs someone they know.with them for later visits but this is rarely needed.

    There are eight 'treatment chairs' in each room of the Day Unit so from the privacy point of view as well as infection I think patients really welcome limiting extra people - I know I do as one does not really want in these circumstances to be viewed over hours by strangers. It is possibly also helpful to the nursing staff who I imagine need peace and space when they are handling several different types of chemo.with patients coming in and out continuously during the day.

    I hope this doesn't sound a 'we've got it sorted' response and I must acknowledge that it is a modern purpose built Cancer Centre ( the Beatson in Glasgow) but it may have some ideas that could be used elsewhere.If something is just the accepted way of things people do seem to comfortably accept it and it obviates the need for staff to make an issue of it with anyone who seems likely to be spreading infection.

    In any case I hope the chemo. of all of you is going well - Bunty.

  • Hello Bunty

    I like the sound of your treatment centre! The Christie's is also purpose built, but deals with industrial quantities of cancer patients. Their rules say one person per bed, but this is flouted, as is the don't come if you've got bugs one. The perpetual beeping of buzzers from the drips doesn't aid tranquility either, as you can hear them from most of the dozens of beds and chairs in other areas, as they've got an open plan divided by curved walls rather than rooms with doors.

    Maybe it's time Ihem left my thoughts with them.

    Chemo seems to be going well as I haven't felt poorly with it, just aome aches and pains which have been dealt with.

    Christine

  • Hi I had my chemo at the christie too.. I know what you mean about there being no tranqulity whilst having your chemo.. Although i did think that staff were great they were very sparse.. It seemed once they got you hooked up they kinda left you too it.. And if you needed anyting you had to search for someone (or rather my partner did). I think that in the future if your worried you shouldnt be hesitant to ask the person coughing or sneezing or what ever if they are ill and if they are they really should be asked to leave. I like you had carbolplatin on its own so the risk was fairly minimal but even so the risk is still there. and lots of other patients will be on combination chemo which reduces the immune system even more.. Maybe he didnt realise he was coughing so much.

    hope your next treatment is more relaxing (if thats at all possible )

    Love suzanne.

    xxx

  • Glad it isn't just me thinks there are issues at the Christie.Yes, individually the staff are great, but when there are 6 beepers going off, it suggests there are too few staff to deal with them. Also the waiting times are too long. Even when I've made it to a chair, it can be an hour before I'm hooked up. A 6 hours trip for an hour of chemo seems too long, and I really feel sorry for those who also have long treatments.

    I shall endeavour to think relaxing thoughts.

    Love Christinexx

  • Thanks for reply,Christine. It sounds as though basically our chemo. set-ups are similar. Ours is also semi open -plan but not enough that you can hear the bleeps from other rooms.It has literally no outlook - a blank wall about 10ft. from the window!(modern design/ using site already owned by N.H.S.) so is ideal for tackling that book everybody is talking about but whose charms have so far been lost on oneself - no distractions other than the bleeps!

    You should be proud of yourself. You were so right to raise this issue and in the coming week many units will be receiving consumer feedback on how they handle infection spreaders. Patient power - great stuff!!

    I'm really pleased your chemo. is going well though i know these aches and pains can be debilitating - they don't seem to be quite like the aches and pains one has had throughout life from other causes. Tomorrow I go to hear the result of the scan I had lastweek and what chemo. my oncologist has in mind for me now. I think it may be cisplatin ( I am, allergic to carbo.) However it is good that there are options - so onwards and upwards for us all!!

    All the very best - Bunty.

  • Room with a view would be bliss. It's really just eye-balling other patients or the blank wall. Fortunately for me carboplatin doesn't take long. How long does cisplatin take?

    Hope the scan result is good.

    I'm at clinic on Thursday to have my abdomen examined as it seems to have got big quite quickly. I've always been skinny, but would be delighted to hear I'm just fat.

    Walking and keeping active eases the odd (as in strange) aches and pains, but getting the balance between too much and too little exercise isn't straightforward as it varies from day to day.

    Meanwhile the decorator is busily removing wallpaper so a proper rest this pm looks unlikely.

    Love Christine

  • Hello Christine

    Sorry not to have been in touch before. I got rather caught up in moving to the new treatment regime while also masterminding a planned repair to ,my chimney - not totally compatible activities but no doubt you know that as it seems redecoration is afoot at your home. Eventually one has to acknowledge that the ideal time for it with ideal health is not on the horizon so better get on with it as best one can!

    The new treatmen regime is cisplatin by infusion weekly for three weeks then one week off along with etoposide in tablet form which is taken for the first two weeks with the cisplatin. This is repeated for a second round by which time it is expected that the lesions will have shrunk ( hopefully) and you continue with the etoposide tablet thing indefinitely - as long as one's blood copes or until it ceases to control the cancer. I believe it is a version of the Rotterdam regime.and seems to be quite well thought of including by some people on this site who have had encouraging results.The side effects are not too pleasant but tolerable so far - muzzy head, nausea,sore joints - what's new.Basically I do have a lot of trust in my medical team and feel they manage the chemo.well.

    However I look forward to my 'free week' and afriend has just e-mailed with a suggesti0n for an outing then to see the autumn colours in some lovely gardens in the Borders - so it's not all bleak isit? Hope the deluge this week has not swept them all away!

    Ho-pe things go well with you and that you've got these coughers and sneezers toeing the line. Best regards - Bunty.

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