I guess it had to come. Women's College Hospital in Toronto is banning waiting room magazines, saying it is to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Nowhere was it evident in the reporting that this is a real problem, just that old copies of Reader's Digest and Maclean's might be a conduit for germs passing from hand to hand. People are allowed to bring their own books and magazines -- and they better because reading matter won't be supplied. According to a report on CBC.ca
Posters inside the hospital say the decision was made because "reading material spreads viruses and infections." Michael Gardam, director of infection prevention and control for Toronto's University Health Network, says getting rid of magazines makes sense.The nature of such edicts is that a) the practice will spread like, well, like a virus and pretty soon the "public place" copy will be an endangered species and b) no matter what the industry says or does -- even if it were able to demonstrate that ink on glossy paper is a potent antiseptic and germicide -- will it make any difference. Plus, I predict, somehow the public will misinterpret this as a ban on reading in hospitals, as ridiculous as that may seem.
"If you've got somebody who's in isolation because they've got C. difficile or some other super bug, and they're reading that magazine, you don't really want to put that back on the rack for another person."
Many of Canada's best known magazines rely on public place copies to drive up audience numbers.