Just yesterday, I accompanied a patient to a visit with an orthopedic surgeon at his stand-alone practice/office.  We waited to be seen and once we were put into an exam room, we waited some more.

While we were waiting, I noticed that the room had a prominent sign displayed on the wall near the cabinets.  It read "Don't be afraid to ask your healthcare providers to wash their hands."  Good advice, I thought, and then I realized that there was not a sink in the room.  Whoops!  Minor detail if you want to actually wash your hands.  There was also no sanitizing gel in the room either (often used in place of actual soap and water).

I flirted with the idea of raising the disconnect with the physician, but thought I'd wait to see how things went.  Fortunately, when the doctor opened the door, he was finishing up drying his hands with a paper towel.  It appeared that he had just REALLY washed his hands out in the main office area.   Even though he had to use the handle on the door after ward, it made me feel better and I was more confident that I could bring up the issue at the end of the visit.

At the appropriate time, I said, "Excuse me, Doctor, may I ask a question? I noticed that there is a sign encouraging us to ask you if you've washed your hands but there is no sink in the room. Doesn't that seem like a problem?"

He was very receptive and chuckled aside as he answered, "Yes, it is.  This is an old office and it's not easy to retrofit plumbing and sinks in these rooms. But we were able to install a sink conveniently in the main exam area so that's where we wash up between patients."

Maybe that's why the sign is in the exam room!

Still, good advice for any reader—make sure your healthcare provider washes his/her hands before they examine you!! Don't be afraid to ask!