Preventing infection is everyone’s job. Some of the things you can do to lower your risk of infection include the following:
First Step, Hospital Prep
Be sure your nurse and doctor are washing their hands before they take care of you. Ask your surgeon how you can prevent infection before your surgery. Follow your doctor’s instructions to wash with a special soap (chlorhexidine) before coming for surgery to remove bacteria from your skin.
Use antibiotics as ordered by your doctor. Always finish all antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Don’t save antibiotics for the next time you are sick. The antibiotics may not work anymore because the germs become resistant. Ask if the antibiotics you are taking are necessary – antibiotics don’t work on viral infections. Don’t insist on antibiotics if your doctor doesn’t advise them – in or out of the hospital.
Be Careful with Catheters
We sometimes use catheters to drain your urine. If a urinary catheter is left in place longer than 2 – 3 days, the risk of infection increases. Ask if it is necessary to have a urinary catheter. If your catheter is still in place 48 hours after surgery, ask if you can have the catheter removed.
Know the Important People on Your Care Team
If you have a question about an infection, ask your nurse to see the Infection Preventionist. They work to prevent and lower the risk of infection among patients.
Germs can hide on many surfaces in the hospital including bed rails, call lights, faucets, and even the TV remote control. You can pick up these germs on your hands, so keep hands away from your face and any wounds. Wash your hands frequently. Your room is cleaned regularly. It’s okay to ask that anyone who touches you, including doctors, nurses, and visitors, wash their hands with soap or alcohol sanitizer.
Source: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology