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Learning About Preventing Hospital Infections

What can help prevent hospital infections?

You and your medical team can take steps to prevent infection when you are in the hospital. These steps are even more important if you have other health problems. These include lung disease, diabetes, or a disease that affects your immune system.

The people who take care of you in the hospital may use extra precautions. They may wear gloves, masks, and gowns. They should follow safe hand-washing routines to keep from spreading germs.

People who have infections may be kept away, or isolated, from you while they receive medical care. Or you may be kept away from others to protect you from getting an infection.

What can you do to stay safe?

Before your hospital stay

  • Ask your doctor if you need influenza (flu), pneumococcal, or other vaccines.
  • Wash your hands often and wear a mask if you are around people with colds or flu.
  • If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about how to manage your blood sugar during your hospital stay.

In the hospital

  • Tell your nurse right away if:
    • You have an IV (intravenous) catheter and the bandage comes loose or gets wet.
    • You have a drainage tube or IV catheter and it becomes loose.
  • Make sure that your caregivers use an alcohol-based gel sanitizer or soap and water to clean hands. They should do this:
    • Before and after any contact with you.
    • After they take off gloves.
    • Before they handle a device that comes into contact with your body (even if gloves are used).
    • After they touch broken skin, sores, or wound dressings.
    • After they touch any objects near you. These include medical equipment, lights, or doorknobs.
    • Before they handle drugs or prepare food.
  • Wash your hands and have caregivers wash their hands with soap and water:
    • When hands are dirty. Take special care after being exposed to body fluids, such as blood.
    • When hands may have been exposed to germs that could spread infection.
    • Before and after eating.
    • After using the toilet.
  • Follow instructions for breathing treatments. This helps prevent lung infection.

Where can you learn more?

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