Dr. Leap and the ‘Ask Me’ button

Dr. Edwin Leap (edwinleap.com) is probably the most gifted Emergency Physician writer (he’s so good he has a paid gig writing for EM News).  Here’s the latest available on the EM News site (which has gotten much better since I last bashed them):

Ask me. It’s a question being posed by a little badge now worn by nurses around the country. It seems harmless enough. At our little hospital, it means, Ask me if I’ve washed my hands. Seems like a reasonable and harmless question. Some places, it probably means, Ask me if I have done my time-out, or some other little administrative caution. It’s one more little reminder to do the right thing.

We get a lot of those these days. …

I was thinking. Maybe, as we do our time-outs and scrub our hands red, as we smile and get cups of ice and endure abuse with a smile, we could create our own Ask Me buttons. But let’s ask some questions with a twist. How about some buttons that ask the things clinicians want to ask everyone else? How about these:

Ask me: If my opinion has ever been silenced with the threat of firing.

Truly entertaining, a delight to read.


  1. I get indignant whenever I hear a doctor bitching about having to do something that may save people’s lives. Nearly 20,000 people die each year from infections that are transmitted through clinician’s actions. A full 75% percent of those are straight-up dirty hands.

    The benefits of hand washing have been known since the 1800’s, so why does this guy have to write a whole aria about it? Ask if he’s constipated? Ask if his wife cheated on him? Ask if his dog died?? Who gives a shit? How has a coal miner’s day been? What is a cop scared of? What is a prostitute’s dearest dream? No one cares! It’s a job, and you gotta do your job. If you’re a doctor, you can’t kill people with your shit-stained hands. Get some lotion from Bed, Bath & Beyond and think about the big checks that put you in a higher tax bracket than 80% of the United States.

  2. Bad Shift says:

    Ray, your point seems to be that it is unpleasant to be a police officer, a coal miner, and a prostitute. You’ll get little argument about that. The tone of the piece comes from years of being prodded into doing many things that seem like good ideas to administrators, but make little sense in the trenches. I admit that handwashing is one of those ideas that is good for everyone, but I don’t think it’s the handwashing that bothers Dr. Leap, so much as the inane little buttons.

  3. TheNewGuy says:

    Relax, Ray… take it in the humorous way it was intended. Your blood pressure will thank you.

  4. So at $100/hour and say 20 patients per 10 hour shift…I get $50 for just washing my hands. Next time I turn on the water, I’ll see dollar signs running instead. Maybe I’ll just stay home from my next shift and everytime I get a bill in the mail, I’ll go wash my hands to pay it. Hmm. I’d have to wash them about 20 times to pay the rent, once each for my gas and electric, about 8 times if I wanted a fancy car to drive, but just to buy some food for my kitties, I could only wash one finger.

    Thank you for the new insight, Ray, I’ll think of you on my next shift!