1. Familiarize yourself with the Safety Ratings & Infection Rates of Hospitals in your area
There are many online resources giving insight into the safety performance and medical effectiveness of care practitioners from hospitals across the country. Connecticut residents can easily search through Connecticut’s hospital ratings. People across the nation can also access consumer reports on hospitals nationally.
Take your search a step further by consulting your state’s HAI (hospital associated infections) reporting. Connecticut residents can easily access and review HAI reports to decide on a preferred hospital for their family should they ever need to seek emergency hospital treatment.
2. Ask hospital staff and visitors to clean their hands and make sure they do it!
This is the single most effective way of preventing infection while in the hospital setting. All caregivers should clean their hands before providing treatment. The debate is on as to whether alcohol-based hand cleaners or soaps are more effective at removing bacteria. Germs such as “C. Diff” can survive alcohol sanitizers, while alcohol based sanitizers kill most forms of bacteria.
Either way, a good hand wash has a strong chance of lowering the your risk and that of your friends and family visiting you of contracting infections when receiving hospital treatment.
Watch your doctor or healthcare providers to ensure they wash their hands.
3. Ask your doctor or care provider to wipe her/his stethoscope with alcohol
Hospital caregivers are often time constrained, so much so that many don’t take the time to clean stethoscopes between patients. This poses a risk to patients given that they are often contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus and other dangerous bacteria. This simple precautionary measure can lessen your chances of contracting a bacterial infection from another patient.
4. If undergoing surgery, shower or bathe daily using chlorhexidine soap three days before surgery
These soaps have been proven in numerous medical studies to decrease patient’s chances of contracting infections in hospital surgical units, and are available for purchase without prescription.
5. Avoid a urinary tract catheter whenever possible
Urinary tract catheters are the most common cause of hospital infections. The tube allows urine to flow from your bladder outside of your body, and is typically provided in hospitals where staff lack the time to walk patients to the bathroom. If you must use one of these catheters as the hospital to remove it as soon as possible, as the time they are left in your body can also increase chances of acquiring infection.