You and Infection Prevention: Working Together to Prevent Infections
Hospital acquired infections affect more than 2 million patients each year. Infection prevention specialists help prevent hospital-acquired infections by:
- Identifying risks for infection
- Teaching proper hand-hygiene practices
- Recommending ways to prevent infection
- Consulting when isolation precautions are needed
Help prevent infections while you are in the hospital.
- Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand wash frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.
- Remind people caring for you to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand wash before touching you.
- If you have an IV, keep the site clean and dry.
- If you have an operation, call your nurse if the bandage becomes loose or wet.
- If you have a tube to drain urine or a wound, tell your nurse if it gets loose or comes out.
- Tell relatives and friends not to visit you if they have a cold or feel sick.
- Tell the people taking care of you if you have been exposed to a contagious disease recently (chickenpox, influenza, SARS, etc.).
Help prevent infections outside the hospital.
- Always wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom whether you are at home or out.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- Ask your doctor if you need the pneumococcal vaccination to prevent a specific kind of pneumonia.
- Don’t take antibiotics if you don’t need them. Antibiotics only cure infections cased by bacteria, not viruses.
- Don’t eat raw or under cooked meat, eggs or chicken.
- Clean cutting surfaces and knives after working with raw meat/poultry.
- Don’t share personal care items (razors, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, towels, etc.)
- Don’t use others’ plates or drinking glasses.
- Keep immunizations up to date.
- Prevent AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases by following the "ABCs": Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms.
You are part of the team.
Being a patient can be scary. We want you to have as much information as you need to make your hospital stay a good one. You can help your medical team by providing information about yourself, your habits and your medications.
- Write down questions you want to ask the doctor or nurse so you won’t forget.
- Keep a list of all your prescription medications. Bring the list to doctor’s visits and tell your doctor about non-prescription medications you take such as aspirin, ibuprofen and antacids. Don’t forget to mention vitamins, herbs or home remedies you may take.
- Ask questions. How long will I be in the hospital? What will happen? Do I need surgery? How will this affect other illnesses I may have?
- Ask your doctor about test results, including lab results, x-rays or other tests that may show new information about you.
- Ask your doctor about treatment options. Is your treatment routine or investigational? Is there some thing else that could be done?
Infection Prevention in the Hospital
- Hand washing is most important! Use either soap and water or alcohol-based hand wash that is provided.
- All hospital staff follow precautions when caring for patients. This means that all health care workers wash their hands (or use alcohol-based hand wash) and may wear gloves, gowns or eyewear. This protects you from infections and staff from exposure to blood or body fluids.
- Some illnesses require additional precautions. If needed, an isolation sign will be placed outside your room. It does not list your illness, but tells staff and visitors about precautions to help prevent spread of disease.
If you need these special precautions staff may:
- Ask you to stay in your room.
- Ask everyone who comes into your room to wear a gown and gloves and maybe a mask.
- Ask you to wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand wash and wear a cover gown before leaving the room.
Infection Prevention at Barnes-Jewish Hospital
Our infection prevention team works with the people taking care of you to decrease your risk of getting an infection while in the hospital. We work with all hospital employees from physicians and nurses to housekeepers, food service and maintenance workers to teach them the most effective ways to prevent infection. Everyone in the hospital has a role in keeping the number of infections as low as possible. You can help prevent infections in the hospital because you’re part of the team too. If you would like to talk to someone from infection prevention, please ask your nurse to contact us.