As part of efforts to intensify cleanliness, hygiene and infection control in public health facilities, the union health ministry has directed 19 of its major hospitals to use different coloured bed sheets on different days of the week. The step would help ensure that bed sheets are changed every day.
According to the order, white bed sheets would be used on Mondays, pink on Tuesdays, green on Wednesdays, yellow on Thursdays, violet, lavender or purple on Fridays, blue on Saturdays and peach or light grey on Sundays.
"The ministry has decided to implement use of different colour bed sheets on all the seven days of the week in hospitals/institutes to ensure daily change of bed sheets, " reads the March 29 order issued by the ministry to hospitals.
The 19 hospitals include all seven All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung hospital, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research(JIPMER), Puducherry.
According to government statistics, over 80 per cent of the Indian population depends on medical care at public hospitals.
"We will see how it works, and then try to implement it in all public hospitals across the country, " Arun Panda, additional health secretary, told IANS.
Asked how the government will ensure that the initiative is properly implemented at hospitals, Panda said: "Our men will make surprise checks at the hospitals to find out if our directions are being properly implemented. The Medical Superintendents have also been given the task to do so. "
The initiative is part of the government's Kayakalp programme, launched to promote cleanliness, hygiene and infection control practices in public health facilities.
According to sources, health ministry officials have received several complaints over the last few months of increase in infections at public health facilities, with one of the reasons being use of the same bed sheets for several days even if the bed is allotted to a new patient.
"It is a good move to avoid the reuse of used linen. We will work out the practicability, and with time implement it, " M. C. Misra, director AIIMS Delhi, told IANS.
Adding that while coloured bed sheets were already being used in some of the departments of AIIMS, such as green or blue in the operation theatres and pink in the labour room, Misra said: "Through this initiative one can have different coloured bed sheets in different wards on different days. "
A. K. Gadhpahilay, Medical Superintendent of Delhi - based Ram Manohar Lohia (hospital), said they have already implemented the order.
"We have implemented the order. We have purchased the bed sheets according to the ministry order, " Gadhpahilay told IANS.
Asked if such an order on short notice adds to the monetary burden of hospitals, Gadhpahilay said that the ministry order cannot be countered as it relates to hygiene and infection control.
(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at rupesh. d@ians. in)