Avoid Hospital Acquired Infections

Avoid Hospital Acquired Infections

Having a medical procedure is stressful enough but now there is concern that simply visiting a hospital could be dangerous. It was once thought that a hospital was the safest place to be when it came to your health. Nowadays there are many cases of hospital acquired infection (HAI) that may prompt you to protect yourself or your loved one before setting foot in one.

These are some simple things you can do to make sure you are prepared. They can potentially lessen your chances of dealing with another health problem alongside the one you went to the hospital for in the first place.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Hospital owners would rather keep the number of HAI reports from their facilities under wraps but transparency has become a requirement and the numbers don’t lie. According to the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posting, 721,800 combined cases per year of HAI were reported in 2011 with the number today estimated near 1.7 million.

Much of this is due to superbug strains that are resistant to antibiotics but it also includes neglected staff hygiene and sterile protocols. Add in compromised ventilation, heat and air conditioning systems as well as inadequate housekeeping and it all plays a role in breeding germs.

Personal Force-field

Before any hospital visit, especially an overnight stay, make sure your immune system is firing on all cylinders. This will give you a fighting chance right from the start, acting like your personal force-field. If you have a sniffle, fever, stomach ache or anything else that you could be fighting, avoid the hospital if you can.

When you are healthy, after checking with your doctor to rule out medical contraindications, try a supplement regiment while increasing your high nutrient food intake for weeks or even months before your procedure. Then, after it is all over, try to stay on this protocol for a possible, higher quality of living.

Eat dark green leafy vegetables, whole fruits, fatty fish, whole grains, and legumes. Stay away from processed foods, alcohol and tobacco.

Supplements would include Vitamin C, probiotics, zinc (never on an empty stomach), glucosamine, glutamine, and arginine. These all assist in post-surgery healing as well.

Don’t Touch This

One of the quickest ways to transfer germs is through touch. Avoiding HAI takes vigilance when it comes to what you touch and how people touch you. Use these steps as a reminder of how to stay on top of your game.

  • Request staff wash hands or wear gloves before treating you (gloves should be a fresh pair)
  • Request visitors wash their hands before sitting with you
  • Avoid touching doorknobs, elevator buttons and handrails with your hands. Try to use a barrier such as a napkin or handkerchief or, for buttons, a knuckle instead of a finger.
  • Wash your hands 5x or more per day
  • Avoid touching your eyes or mouth and do not place food utensils on furniture or bed sheets

Watch Them

As professional and well-intentioned hospital staff is, it’s ups to you or an advocate to keep an eye on equipment and bandages that could otherwise transport an infection.

Look for leaking or soiled tubing as well as wound dressings that may be oozing yellowish discharge and ask if it is normal. Even if the staff doesn’t admit it, your “polite” question may alert them to a possible vulnerability that could be stopped before it turns into a HAI.

Get Detailed

The more you know, the better protected you will be. Here are some real details you can request that just may keep you out of harm’s way.

  • If you need surgery research the surgeon with the lowest infection rate.
  • Before any medical personnel uses a stethoscope on you ask that the diaphragm, which is the flat surface, to be wiped down with alcohol.
  • If you need a “central line” catheter, ask your doctor about the benefits of one that is antibiotic-impregnated or silver-chlorhexidine coated to reduce infections.
  • Most hospitals will require that three to five days before surgery you shower or bathe daily with chlorhexidine soap at home. If your’s does not require this precaution, do it anyway.
  • Get tested for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) one week before surgery. It is a nasal swab that many hospitals also require to reduce HAI.
  • Ask to have your glucose levels checked during and after surgery as controlled levels have shown to reduce infection.
  • Ask to remain warm during surgery. Most operating rooms are cold to slow any potential bacterial growth on surrounding equpment. However, studies have shown that keeping a patient warm during surgery helps infection resistance.
  • If a doctor is wearing a necktie while examining you ask that it be removed or tucked as studies show that clothing such as ties easily grab pathogens and transfer them from patient to patient.

Avoid HAI using these easy ways to keep you safe. It is important to remember that you (directly or indirectly) are paying the doctors and staff for your treatment. When it comes down to it, a hospital is a business and you are the customer therefore it is your right to ask for these and any other safety precautions without thinking you will insult anyone or be treated poorly.