3 stray thoughts to get your day rolling

John Taylor: September 05, 20070 Comments

Flight delays are like hangovers. They fade over time, until the next sorry encounter. But filthy planes? That's borderline criminal.

Not long ago, a traveler with infectious tuberculosis made headlines when he jetted internationally. That seemed a dangerous oddity, but planes start looking like full-time germ incubators when you read a Wall Street Journal story about how and how frequently jets are cleaned.

Delays can delay normal cleaning times, we are told. Airlines report they do "deep cleaning" about once a month -- cleaning the toilets and galleys, vacuuming carpets and cleaning seats and tray tables. (What cleansers do they use, do they leave the gook on long enough to disinfect or is this another example of useless spray-and-wipe? We're not told.)

If you ever get bored sitting on the tarmac with the jet's air-conditioning off, try calculating how many passengers over 30 days have used your seat, pillow and tray or the minuscule potties everyone shares. Time to resurrect the old Pogo comic strip line: We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Of course, we expect hospital operating rooms to be pretty clean places. One exception might have been Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, which was cited in May by the Washington State Department of Health for not having a written policy for bringing personal items into the ORs. The offending items, Modern Healthcare magazine reported, were anesthesiologists' backpacks. A hospital official says a policy is now in place, the story said, with the satchels allowable if they've properly cleaned and have some relevant use.

Lastly, Neil McLaughlin has penned a tongue-in-cheek calendar of when and how our current health-care nightmare will end. McLaughin's column appeared in the Sept. 3 issue of Modern Healthcare, of which he is managing editor. A snippet: "2033: The Census Bureau reports there are no more Americans with health insurance. The last workers lose their coverage when Ben & Jerry's ends benefits because its latest ice cream, Gooey Fudgey Chunky Cholesterol Monkey, is shown to clog arteries and the nation's crumbling sewer systems."