Staff infections are only one category of serious infection risks that patients and their families face when getting health care treatment. Patients can reduce these infection risks by sharing the following tips from the Center for Disease Control:
- Speak up. Talk to your doctor about any questions or worries. Ask what they’re doing to protect you.
- Keep hands clean. Make sure everyone, including friends and family, clean their hands before touching you. If you don’t see your healthcare providers clean their hands, ask them to do so.
- Ask each day if your central line catheter or urinary catheter is necessary. Leaving a catheter in place too long increases the chances you’ll get an infection. Let your doctor or nurse know immediately if the area around the central line becomes sore or red, or if the bandage falls off or looks wet or dirty.
- Prepare for surgery. Let your doctor know about any medical problems you have. Ask your doctor how he/she prevents surgical site infections.
- Ask your healthcare provider, “Will there be a new needle, new syringe, and a new vial for this procedure or injection?” Insist that your healthcare providers never reuse a needle or syringe on more than one patient.
- Get Smart about antibiotics. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections – they don’t work for viruses like the ones that cause colds and flu. Ask your healthcare provider if there are steps you can take to feel better without using antibiotics. If you’re prescribed an antibiotic, make sure to take the prescribed antibiotic exactly as your healthcare provider tells you and do not skip doses.
- Watch out for deadly diarrhea (aka Clostridium difficile). Tell your doctor if you have 3 or more diarrhea episode services in 24 hours, especially if you’ve been taking an antibiotic.
- Know the signs and symptoms of infection. Some skin infections, such as MRSA, appear as redness, pain, or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgery site and come with a fever. Infections can also lead to sepsis, a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection.
- Get Vaccinated. Getting yourself, family, friends, and caregivers vaccinated against the flu and other infections prevents spread of disease.
- Cover your mouth and nose. When you sneeze or cough, germs can travel 3 feet or more. Use a tissue to avoid spreading germs with your hands.
Healthcare-associated infections are not only a problem for healthcare facilities – they represent a public health issue. Learn more about how to be a safe patient. Read: Patient Safety: What You Can Do to Be a Safe Patient.
©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Nonexclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.