October 23, 2015
Join us this week as we celebrate International Infection Prevention Week.
International Infection Prevention Week is focused on highlighting the importance of infection prevention. Established in the late 1980’s, International Infection Prevention Week was originally focused primarily on hospitals, long-term care facilities, and healthcare professionals. However, since then, a greater focus has also been placed on the community and educating patients and families on how they too can prevent infection.
When you or a loved one is admitted to or visits a healthcare facility, whether it is a hospital, clinic, doctor’s office, or any other care facility, you should expect to get better. Unfortunately, each year nearly 1 in 25 people in the U.S. get infections while in hospitals being treated for something else. Almost 75,000 people in hospitals die each year from infection, many of which could have been prevented with proper infection prevention practices.
Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) are infections that patients get while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions. No matter where you receive treatment, a hospital, doctor’s office, surgery center, or even a dialysis center, you are at risk for developing and HAI. Regardless of where you go to receive care, it’s important to know the right questions to ask and to be aware of the infection prevention practices so that you can support infection prevention efforts and have the safest experience possible.
Here are the top 10 things you can do to help prevent infection:
- Speak up for your care. Don’t be shy. Ask plenty of questions when you go into any healthcare facility.
- Clean your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer often while in a healthcare facility.
- Ask about safe injection practices. (One needle, one syringe, only one time.)
- If your hospital room looks dirty, ask to have it cleaned.
- Know about the medications you are taking – what they are for, how to take them, and how often you should take them. If you are prescribed antibiotics, take all of them even if you start to feel better.
- Ask if you should shower with a germ killing soap before having surgery.
- If you have a urinary catheter, ask every day if you still need it.
- Ask about the vaccines you need to stay healthy.
- Speak with the facility’s infection preventionist if you have questions. These “germ sleuths” work every day to protect you. They use their detective skills to find the bad germs and keep them from making you sick.
- Make sure every healthcare worker washes their hands every time they come into your room. If they don’t, ask them to do so.
The most common type of Healthcare-Associated Infections can include:
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections. These happen when germs travel along a urinary catheter and cause an infection in your bladder or kidney.
- Surgical site infections. This is an infection that happens after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place.
- Bloodstream infections.This happens when germs enter the blood by way of a catheter or tube that is placed in your vein.
- Pneumonia. This is an infection of the lungs.
- Clostridium difficile. This is a germ that can cause diarrhea.
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. These infections are difficult to cure with antibiotics and can cause serious infections on the skin, in wounds, in the lungs or in the blood.
- Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus. This is another type of infection that is difficult to cure with antibiotics. VRE can cause an infection of the urinary tract, digestive tract, bloodstream, and wounds.
Remember, germs are everywhere! Take precautions at home, school, work and anywhere else. By following the simple steps mentioned earlier you can create and maintain a healthy and infection-free environment.