Reducing Your Risk Of Health Care Acquired Infections

What are Health Care Acquired Infections?Infections that patients get while in the health care setting are referred to as Hospital-Acquired, Health-Care Acquired or nosocomial infections (HAI’s). This means that the patient didn’t enter the health care setting with an infection, s/he acquired it while receiving health care. In a setting where the primary goal is patient safety and security, how does this happen?Who is at risk?HAI’s kill 100,000 patients each year. It is the 4th leading cause of death in America. What puts a patient at risk for such infection? The immune system is the body’s natural defense against infection, so patients who have suppressed immune systems are at greatest risk. This includes burn patients, cancer patients, HIV patients, patients on chemo or radiation therapy, patients on long-term steroid treatment, elderly patients and infants.

Patients who have a break in the integrity of their skin are also at risk. These patients include surgical patients or patients with other wounds, patients with Intravenous therapy, patients with drains, patients with bed sores, and other patients with tubes inserted through their bodies.

Patients with indwelling urinary catheters are also very much at risk for acquiring Urinary Tract Infections, one of the most common HAI’s.How to reduce the risk:The number one way to reduce the risk for a patient to get a HAI is for the staff to be diligent in their hand washing before and after each contact with each patient. In most health care settings, containers of hand sanitizer are strategically located throughout the facility. ” Foam in…Foam out ” is the mantra for all members of the health care team. It is the industry standard. All visitors should be instructed in the importance of hand washing as well. They should wash their hands each time the enter or leave the patient’s room. No one should be touched in the health care setting unless they know that the “touching” person has washed his or her hands. Do not be afraid to ask that person if they have washed their hands before they touch you. If they assure you that they did prior to entering your room, do not hesitate to tell them that you would feel more comfortable if you were able to observe them do that. The typical health care worker will appreciate your due diligence. If they should refuse to acquiesce to your simple request, refuse to allow them to touch you and ask to speak with their supervisor. Be sure to wash your own hands before and after going to the bathroom and before eating meals.

If a health care worker is assigned to your care and that individual appears to be ill or is coughing and/or sneezing, tell the staff person that you are concerned about their well-being. But let them know that you are equally as concerned about your own well-being. Ask them to put on a mask. If they refuse, ask to speak to their supervisor. You owe it to yourself not to allow any visitors who might also be showing signs of illness.

Be sure not to walk barefoot in the health care setting. Wear water-proof shoes in the shower. Use sanitizing cloths or liquid to disinfect the hand rails, TV remote, telephone, bedside stand, and bedside table on a regular basis. If you don’t have the disinfection you need with you, ask the staff to provide you with what you need.

Try not to have any conversation with the staff while they are changing any of your wound dressings. You don’t want any germs in their respiratory tract or mouth to access through the break in your skin.

If the health care workers have long hair that falls into your “space” while they are giving you care, ask them to pull it back. They should do this willingly as this is an industry standard. When in doubt about the care you are being given, ask to speak with a supervisor.

” Infection ” – 3:00 minutes

” Infection: The Engaged Patient ” – 3:59 minutes

” Hospital Infection Management ” – 14:48 minutes




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