Patients go to the hospital to receive treatments and procedures that will help them feel better. Unfortunately, not every individual will have a positive outcome from his or her hospital stay. In fact, statistics reveal that roughly one out of every 25 hospital patients will develop a healthcare-associated infection as a result of their time in a healthcare facility. There were roughly 700,000 healthcare-associated infections in United States acute care hospitals each year, and around 75,000 of these patients died during their time in the hospital, studies show.
How Patients Can Be Proactive
Patients undergoing any type of medical procedure face the possibility of developing an infection. Whether it is a routine procedure like a tonsillectomy or a major operation such as an organ transplant, surgery patients are among those at the greatest risk. Fortunately, there are several precautions patients can take ahead of time to reduce their risk of infection.Follow all instructions that you are given prior to your surgery. For example, you may be instructed to implement a strict diet, take certain medications, or relax as much as possible before your operation. There are reasons why your doctor is giving you these orders, so it is important for your health and well-being to follow what they say.
- Extra weight can increase your risk of infection. If you are overweight, losing some of the weight before your surgery is a good idea.
- High blood sugar can also increase your odds of developing an infection. If you suffer from diabetes, you and your doctor need to have a conversation about how to keep your blood sugar under control before, during, and after your procedure.
- Smokers are at greater risk of developing a lung infection. It can improve your overall health if you make the effort to stop smoking before your surgery, and quitting can also improve how your body is able to heal after your procedure.
Playing it Safe in the Hospital
Once your surgery or other medical procedure is over, there are still some basic precautions you can follow to keep yourself safe and healthy.
- Wash your hands! This basic step is one of the most important things you can do in any health care setting. Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, after you touch anything that may be soiled, and after you have had a lot of people around you.
- Remind others to wash their hands, too. This includes your doctors, nurses, and visitors. You can even take the extra step to make a sign reminding everyone who comes into your room.
- While you may enjoy the company, make sure that all your family and friends are healthy and feeling well before you allow them to visit.
- Most hospital patients will have an IV at some point. If the dressing around your IV becomes loose or gets wet, let your nurse know immediately.
- If you have a catheter or drainage tube after your procedure, be sure to let someone know right away if it becomes loose or dislodged.
- Let your nurse know as soon as possible if any of your dressings or wounds get wet, dirty, or anything else of concern.
- If you are instructed to stay in bed, follow the doctor’s orders. Proper rest will allow your body to heal quicker.
- Remember that pain medications are available to keep you more comfortable, if you want them.
- Your medical team is there to help you in any way, so use them to your advantage. It is their job to answer all questions you may have or offer advice.
While not all healthcare-associated infections can be prevented, patients can play an active role in the recovery process by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following doctor’s orders, and taking the proper precautions to keep germs and bacteria away.
If you or a loved one acquired a serious infection while at a hospital, you should contact one of Ross Feller Casey’s experienced hospital infection attorneys now for a free case review. The firm has won numerous, multi-million recoveries on behalf of those who acquired severe infections during their hospital stay and is the recognized leader in litigating such cases.
As with all our cases, we operate on a contingency basis, so there will never be a cost to you unless a financial recovery is made.