This is a patient – safety article and quite informative and beneficial for everyone. The topics are highlighted on how to prevent infections prior and during a hospital stay.
The most pertinent information to review and share with others is as follows:
1. Check Up on Your Hospital
See how it compares with others on central line, C. diff, and MRSA infections, as well as other measures of patient safety. To compare hospitals in your area at preventing infections, use our hospital ratings.
2. Have a Friend or Family Member With You
That person can act as your advocate, ask questions, and keep notes. A Consumer Reports survey of 1,200 recently hospitalized people found that those who had a companion were 16 percent more likely to say that they had been treated respectfully by medical personnel. The most important times to have a companion for preventing infections and other medical errors are on nights, weekends, and holidays, when staff is reduced, and when shifts change.
3. Keep a Record
Keep a pad and pen nearby so that you can note what doctors and nurses say, which drugs you get, and questions you have. If you spot something worrisome, such as a drug you don’t recognize, take a note or snap a picture on your phone. You can also use your phone to record thoughts or conversations with staff. Though some may object, “explain that you are recording so you remember later,” McGiffert says.
4. Insist on Clean Hands
Ask everyone who enters your room whether they’ve washed their hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is not enough to destroy certain bacteria, such as the dangerous C. diff. Don’t hesitate to say: “I’m sorry, but I didn’t see you wash your hands. Would you mind doing it again?”
Bring bleach wipes for bed rails, doorknobs, the phone, and the TV remote, all of which can harbor bacteria. And if your room looks dirty, ask that it be cleaned.
6. Cover Wounds
Some hospitals examine incisions daily for infection, but opening the bandage exposes the area to bacteria. Newer techniques—sealing the surgical site with skin glue (instead of staples, which can harbor bacteria) and waterproof dressings that stay on for one to three weeks without opening—are effective at preventing infection.
7. Inquire Whether IVs and Catheters Are Needed
Ask every day whether central lines, urinary catheters, or other tubes can be removed. The longer they’re left in place, the greater the infection risk.
8. Ask About Antibiotics
For many surgeries, you should get an antibiotic 60 minutes before the operation. But research suggests that the type of antibiotic used or the timing of when it’s administered is wrong in up to half of cases.
Listen to one of the educational Podcasts: Using antibiotics wisely, How to help in the fight against antibiotic resistance with Guests Dr. Arjun Srinivassan, MD and Dr. Lauri Hicks, DO
9. Postpone Surgery If You Have an Infection
That increases your risk of developing a new infection and worsening an existing one. So if you have any other type of infection—say, an abscessed tooth—then the surgery should be postponed, if possible, until it’s completely resolved.
10. Say No to Razors
Removing hair from the surgical site is often necessary, but doing that with a regular razor can cause nicks that provide an opening for bacteria. The nurse should use an electric trimmer instead.
11. Question the Need for Heartburn Drugs
Some patients enter the hospital taking heartburn drugs such as Nexium, lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec) or are prescribed one after they’re admitted. But these drugs, called proton-pump inhibitors, increase the risk of intestinal infections and pneumonia, so consider stopping them before admission and, once there, ask whether you really need one.
12. Test for MRSA
Ask your surgeon to screen you for MRSA, a potentially deadly bacteria that’s resistant to antibiotics, either before you enter or on admission, so that you can address the problem and hospital staff can take extra steps to protect you and others.
13. Watch for Diarrhea
Get tested for C. diff. infection if you have three loose stools within 24 hours. If you test positive, expect extra precautions for preventing infections from spreading to others.
14. Quit Smoking, Even Temporarily
You won’t be allowed to smoke in the hospital anyway, and stopping as long as possible beforehand cuts the risk of infection. Read our advice on how to stop smoking.
15. Wash Up the Night Before Surgery
Ask about taking precautions before entering the hospital, such as bathing with special soap or using antiseptic wipes.
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