What Is The Best Way To Prevent Hospital Infections?


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Patients go to the hospital for treatments and procedures to help them feel better. Unfortunately, not every individual will have a positive outcome from their hospital stay. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly one out of every 31 hospital patients will develop a healthcare-associated infection as a result of their time in a healthcare facility. There are roughly 1.7 million healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in the United States each year, and around 99,000 of these patients die during their time in the hospital.

How Can Patients Be Proactive In Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections?

Patients undergoing any type of medical procedure may develop 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 patient safety instructions that you are given before 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 to follow what they say for your health and well-being.

  • 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 stop smoking before your surgery, and quitting can also improve how your body can heal after your procedure.

Strategies To Help Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections

Once your surgery or other medical procedure is over, you can still follow some basic precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy:

  • Wash your hands! This basic step is one of the most important things you can do in any healthcare setting for infection prevention. The World Health Organization recently reported that good hand hygiene can prevent up to 70 percent of infections. 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, other healthcare workers, and visitors. You can even take the extra step to make a sign reminding everyone who comes into your room to wash their hands.
  • While you may enjoy the company, ensure 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 wet, inform your nurse immediately.
  • If you have a catheter or drainage tube after your procedure, let someone know immediately 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 to prevent surgical site infections.
  • 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 your questions and offer advice.

While not all healthcare-associated infections can be prevented, patients can play an active role in recovery by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following doctor’s orders, and following infection control procedures to keep germs and bacteria away.

What Are The Most Common Types Of HAIs?

Some healthcare-associated infections are more common than others. Here are some that are most likely to develop and cause significant patient illnesses:

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections – The insertion of a urinary catheter can lead to infection in any part of the urinary tract, including the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys. If the catheter picks up bacteria as it is inserted, the bacteria will have a quick and easy path into the bladder, which causes infection.  
  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections – Central lines are used to administer fluids and medicines through a large blood vessel in the arm, chest, neck, or groin. If inserted or cared for incorrectly, bacteria can find their way into the tube and the bloodstream. Central line infections are serious and can be life-threatening.  
  • Hospital-onset (HO) methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia – MRSA is a bacteria that developed antimicrobial resistance to some antibiotics. It is spread by contaminated hands of health care workers, by inserting contaminated devices into the body, or if it comes into contact with an infected wound.
  • Surgical site infections – SSIs can be superficial, only affecting the skin, or more severe, involving tissues under the skin, implanted material, or organs.
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (lung infection) – The use of a ventilator and endotracheal tube to help a patient breathe can lead to germs getting into the lungs. The germs grow, and the pneumonia infection develops.

What Should You Do If You Suffered A Hospital Acquired Infection In PA?

If you or a loved one acquired a serious infection while at a Pennsylvania hospital, you should contact one of Ross Feller Casey’s experienced hospital infection attorneys now for a free case review. The Philadelphia law firm has won numerous multimillion-dollar 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 medical malpractice cases, we operate on a contingency basis, so there will never be a cost to you unless a financial recovery is made.

About the Author

Kevin Harden, Jr., joined Ross Feller Casey in 2017 after an exceptional legal career, first as a top criminal prosecutor in Philadelphia, and then as a leading defense attorney for corporations and executives.

Kevin Harden

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