Cutting Your Risk of Hospital-Acquired Infection

Getting out of the hospital infection free


ORLANDO, Fla. – Every year, one-in-25 patients come down with an infection they got while staying in the hospital. C-diff is the most common hospital-acquired infection. But other infections include MRSA, catheter and surgical site infections. According to research, hand hygiene is the single most important thing in preventing these infections. Yet, one study of an intensive care unit found only 15-percent of hospital staff and visitors used the hand washing station. So whether you’re in the hospital, or visiting someone, ask everyone to clean their hands when they enter the room. Here are other ways to cut down your infection risk.

Cheryl O’Riordan stays as active as she can while undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But it was what she caught during chemo that put an end to her active lifestyle; clostridium difficile or C-diff.

“It felt like the lining of my colon was being ripped out. That’s the best way I could describe it.” O’Riordan described.”

“The environment becomes contaminated and people are debilitated and subject to easy infection in the hospital.” stated Dale Gerding, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Loyola University School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois.

Since some bacteria can linger for weeks. To cut down on your risk, bring sanitary wipes to clean the bed rails, call button and TV remote, and don’t forget light switches and door knobs. One study found cleaning crews often overlooked these areas.

If you need surgery, choose a surgeon with a low infection rate. Surgeons know their rate of infection for various procedures; don’t be afraid to ask for it. If hair needs to be removed from the surgical site ask that clippers be used instead of a razor which can create small nicks in the skin where bacteria can enter. And finally, stop smoking well before your surgery. Patients who smoke are three times as likely to develop a surgical site infection as non-smokers. O’Riordan has learned you can never be too cautious.

“I’m not a germaphobic, it’s just that I don’t want to go through this again, ever. Ever!” said O’Riordan.

Researchers found that putting a photograph of a man’s angry-looking eyes above the hand gel dispenser in hospital rooms had a subconscious effect on people and increased hand washing by 33-percent. The smell of citrus also seemed to motivate people with a 46-percent increase.


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