A sign outlining “polite rules” for attending a Bendigo medical clinic has sparked controversy by stipulating hygiene standards for its patients.
Five items were listed under the heading: “Polite rules whilst attending this clinic.”
“Brush your teeth before attending the clinic, smell nice, have clean hands and nails, be courteous towards elderly patients, [and] have respect for yourself and other [sic],” the sign said.
“Your habits are a reflection of you!”
A Tristar Medical Group spokeswoman said the sign had been removed from the Eaglehawk clinic and was subject to internal investigations.
The Bendigo Advertiser believes the sign was taken down after having been photographed and shared on social media.
Tristar Medical Group refused to provide details on who was responsible for the sign, why was it created, and how long had it been on display.
However, Australian Medical Association president and GP Lorraine Baker said the rules listed suggested there had been an incident at the clinic.
The first line to jump out at her was about being courteous to elderly patients, followed by the request for respectful conduct.
“I think, however, it fails to address the nuances of why patients come to clinics,” Dr Baker said.
She said there were numerous reasons why someone might present to a doctor without having brushed their teeth, applied perfume, or cleaned their hands and nails.
Among them could be their work or living circumstances, or the nature of the issue for which they were seeking medical assistance.
Dr Baker said patients might not be in a position to improve their hygiene before seeing a doctor.
“What patients do have a chance to do is remind themselves there are other patients in the waiting room,” she said.
She said the sign might have been written with the best of intentions, but in such a way that it was open to misinterpretation.
“This would not be a sign the College of General Practitioners would have approved,” Dr Baker said.
However, she said clinics were within their rights to create their own notices.
More common signage at medical clinics are those concerned with limiting the spread of infectious conditions, and respectful mobile phone use.