Simple Ways to Prevent Hospital-Acquired Infections
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) affect one in 20 patients at any given time. It is estimated that more than 100,000 hospitalized patients die from infections. HAIs are the forth largest killer in the United States. This problem leads to unnecessary deaths and excess medical costs that exceed $33 billion every year. Yet, proper precautions can eradicate most hospital infections. Simple things, such as controlling bacteria, testing incoming patients, and rigorous hand hygiene, can stop the spread of ordinary infections in health care facilities.
Any hospital can and should implement standard infection control precautions to prevent HAIs and keep its patients healthy. The staff should use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as aprons, goggles, masks, and gloves, whenever they’re handling blood, bodily fluids, and open wounds. Cleaning up afterward is essential.
Most infections acquired in hospitals are caused by viruses and bacteria. Thus, it’s important to create barriers between patients and germs. The number of visitors and nurses entering the patient’s room should be limited. In many hospitals, visitors are required to wear protective equipment, especially when seeing patients who have an isolation sign outside their doors.
One of the most effective ways to prevent hospital-acquired infections is to implement contact precautions. Anyone who may touch the patient or his personal items should wear a long-sleeved gown and rubber gloves. The same goes for nurses, janitors, and doctors.
Many infections are transmitted by germs that float in the air and enter the lungs. Airborne precautions, such as wearing respiratory masks, can help keep patients, visitors, and staff from inhaling these germs.
Clean hands are everyone’s responsibility. From the staff members to visitors, anyone entering a hospital should pay attention to hand hygiene. The hands can be washed with water and soap, foam hand sanitizers, or alcohol to keep them clean and prevent germs from spreading.
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