Avoid a Hospital-Acquired Infection: 6 Tips for Patients

Unfortunately, although a hospital’s purpose is to make the sick well again, the opposite can happen when a patient develops a hospital-acquired infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 20 patients develops a hospital-acquired infection every year. Follow these six tips so that you are not part of this number suffering from medical malpractice. 

Ways a Patient May Prevent an Infection at the Hospital 

One of the common causes of infection is failure to wash hands properly. But this isn’t just something patients should be doing; the hospital staff should practice proper hygiene as well. 

One way to prevent an infection is to ensure that anyone providing medical care washes their hands after coming into the room. If a patient hasn’t personally witnessed this, he or she has the right to ask if it was done or to request it. 

A second way to prevent infection is to pay attention to linens, sheets, bedpans, or other surfaces and garments to make sure they aren’t dirty. Signs of uncleanliness should raise a red flag. 

A third way is to bring your own (or ask family to bring) antiseptic wipes. Wipe down the railings on the bed, the remote used for bed settings, tray and anything else previous patients may have touched. It’s usually difficult to tell if a room has been properly cleaned and sanitized. By taking this extra measure, it could prevent sickness. 

Fourth, pay attention to any dressings on wounds to make sure they are clean and dry. Although a nurse or someone else may be responsible for changing it when necessary, patients have the right to ask for attention if they become wet, loose or soiled. 

A fifth way to prevent infection is to stay in the room as much as possible. If one needs to get small amounts of exercise, avoid touching shared spaces like door handles, water fountains or the nurse’s station. 

Finally, if any type of tube is inserted (such as a catheter), make sure the site of insertion is kept clean and dry. If it becomes dislodged, wet or dirty, request a new one. 

With the overworked hospital staffs that outfit most healthcare facilities, a patient’s attention to his or her own care should be welcome. Returning to the hospital because of an HAI is something neither the patient nor the staff want. If this unfortunate situation does occur, however, Gacovino, Lake & Associates is available for representation.

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