You and Infection Control: Working Together to Prevent Infections
Hospital acquired infections affect more than 2 million patients each year. Infection control specialists help prevent hospital-acquired infections by:
- Identifying risks for infection.
- Teaching proper handwashing methods.
- Recommending ways to prevent infection.
- Consulting when isolation precautions are needed.
Help prevent infections while you are in the hospital
- Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand wash frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.
- Remind people caring for you to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand wash before touching you.
- If you have an IV, keep the site clean and dry.
- If you have an operation, call your nurse if the bandage becomes loose or wet.
- If you have a tube to drain urine or a wound, tell your nurse if it gets loose or comes out.
- Tell relatives and friends not to visit you if they have a cold or feel sick.
- Tell the people taking care of you if you have been exposed to a contagious disease recently (chickenpox, influenza, SARS, etc.).
Help prevent infections outside the hospital
- Always wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom whether you are at home or out.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- Ask your doctor if you need the pneumococcal vaccination to prevent a specific kind of pneumonia.
- Don’t take antibiotics if you don’t need them. Antibiotics only cure infections cased by bacteria, not viruses.
- Don’t eat raw or under cookedmeat, eggs or chicken.
- Clean cutting surfaces and knives after working with raw meat/poultry.
- Don’t share personal care items (razors, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, towels, etc.)
- Don’t use others’ plates or drinking glasses.
- Keep immunizations up to date.
You are part of the team
Being a patient can be scary. We want you to have as much information as you need to make your hospital stay a good one. You can help your medical team by providing information about yourself, your habits and your medications
1. Write down questions you want to ask the doctor or nurse so you won’t forget.
2. Keep a list of all your prescription medications. Bring the list to doctor’s visits and tell your doctor about non-prescription meds you take such as aspirin, ibuprofen and antacids. Don’t forget to mention vitamins, herbs or home remedies you may take.
3. Ask questions. How long will I be in the hospital? What will happen? Do I need surgery? How will this affect other illnesses I may have?
4. Ask your doctor about test results, including lab results, x-rays, or other tests that may show new information about you.
5. Ask your doctor about treatment options: Is your treatment routine or investigational? Is there some thing else that could be done?
Infection Prevention in the Hospital
Handwashing is most important! Use either soap and water or alcohol-based hand wash that is provided. Precautions are followed by all staff when caring for patients in the hospital. This means that all health care workers wash their hands (or use alcohol-based hand wash) and may wear gloves, gowns or eyewear. This protects you from infections and staff from exposure to blood or body fluids.
Some illnesses require additional precautions. If needed, an isolation sign will be placed outside your room. It does not list your illness, but tells staff and visitors about precautions to help prevent spread of disease. If you need these special precautions staff may:
- Ask you to stay in your room.
- Ask everyone who comes into your room to wear a gown and gloves and maybe a mask.
- Ask you to wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand wash and wear a cover gown before leaving the room.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria — often called “staph.” Decades ago, a strain of staph emerged in hospitals that was resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it. Dubbed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), it was one of the first germs to outwit all but the most powerful drugs. MRSA infection can be fatal.
Staph bacteria are normally found on the skin or in the nose of about one-third of the population. If you have staph on your skin or in your nose but aren’t sick, you are said to be “colonized” but not infected with MRSA. Healthy people can be colonized with MRSA and have no ill effects. However, they can pass the germ to others. Staph bacteria are generally harmless unless they enter the body through a cut or other wound, and even then they often cause only minor skin problems in healthy people. But in older adults and people who are ill or have weakened immune systems, ordinary staph infections can cause serious illness. In the 1990s, a type of MRSA began showing up in the wider community. Today, that form of staph, known as community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA, is responsible for many serious skin and soft tissue infections and for a serious form of pneumonia.
Staph infections, including MRSA, generally start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.
Infection Control at Fishermen’s Community Hospital
Our Infection Control staff work with the people taking care of you to decrease your risk of getting an infection while in the hospital. We work with all hospital employees from physicians and nurses to housekeepers, food service and maintenance workers to teach them the most effective ways to prevent infection. Everyone in the hospital has a role in keeping the number of infections as low as possible. You can help prevent infections in the hospital because you’re part of the team too. If you would like to talk to someone from infection control, please ask your nurse to contact us.
Hand Hygiene In-services. Schools, Daycare facilities and Industrial facilities should to use Proper Hand Hygiene procedures. This In-Service will teach you how to meet those guidelines.