Hospitals are full of sick people, so they have a lot of germs. And although health care workers do their best to kill germs and protect patients, they can't always prevent infections.
Hospital infections can be very serious, especially if you're already weak from whatever illness or problem put you in the hospital in the first place. An infection can add weeks to your hospital stay.
So it's important to learn the steps you need to take to keep yourself as healthy as possible during your hospital stay.
This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent infection while you're in the hospital. Make sure to wash your hands:
Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer next to your bed to clean your hands when you can't—or don't want to—get up to use the sink.
All people who come in contact with you should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when they first come into your room.
Health care workers already know they must do this, but sometimes they get in a hurry and forget. If you don't see them wash their hands in your room, remind them to do it.
And don't worry about offending them. Just say, "Oops, don't forget to wash your hands!" They want you to do this. In fact, in some hospitals, doctors and nurses wear buttons that say, "Ask me if I've washed my hands."
Visitors need to follow the same rules. That bottle of hand sanitizer next to your bed will be a good reminder. Just hand it to them when they first come in.
As an active patient, you can protect yourself just by being fussy about germs:
These steps are important for every hospital patient. But they're especially important if you have other health problems, such as lung disease, diabetes, or a disease that affects your immune system.
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014
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