In the U.S., about 100,000 people die each year from infections they acquire in a hospital. But infections can also occur if you’re undergoing an outpatient procedure.
The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, a nonprofit organization, shares these tips for avoiding infection:
• Be a stickler for clean hands. Make sure that hospital staff, caregivers, and even your family clean their hands before touching you or the surfaces in your room. Don’t be falsely assured by gloves. If caregivers have put on gloves without cleaning their hands first, the gloves may be contaminated.
• Beware of stethoscopes. Before your doctor uses a stethoscope, ask that the diaphragm (the flat surface) be wiped with alcohol.
• Take antibacterial showers. If you are going to the hospital for elective surgery, start showering or bathing daily with chlorhexidine soap three to five days before, which will help remove dangerous bacteria you may be carrying on your own skin. Also, don’t shave right before entering the hospital. Small skin nicks can allow bacteria to enter.
• Watch what you eat. Common hospital infections are often contracted from contaminated food on meal trays. Don’t put hospital food on any surface except a clean plate on which it was delivered.
• Say no to flowers. Tell visitors that instead of flowers, they can bring you disinfectant wipes. Use them on the bed rails, the over-the-bed table, the TV clicker, doorknobs, the call button, and any other frequently touched surfaces. Scrub the room down before you return from surgery.
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