Hospital-Acquired Infections: Why You Should Take Measures to Protect Yourself and Your Family

Every year, millions of Americans are diagnosed with a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) and many of them become seriously ill or even die as a result. When you or a loved one go to the hospital, it is important to know how to protect yourself and your family from being exposed to a hospital-acquired infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HAIs can occur in any type of health care setting, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, physician's offices, and outpatient centers. The exact cause of HAIs is not known, but some of the factors that can increase the risk of infection include inadequate hand hygiene, lack of contact precautions, and overcrowding in health care settings.

Here are some tips to help protect you and your family from HAIs:

  • Always maintain good hygiene. Washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after using the bathroom, before eating, and after touching surfaces frequently shared by others can help reduce the transmission of germs.
  • Be vigilant about contact precautions. Before entering a hospital room, make sure you know when to use protective gloves, gowns, and masks, and follow the instructions given by hospital staff.
  • Stay up to date on vaccinations, especially if you are going to be admitted to the hospital. Vaccinations can help protect you from some of the most common threats in health care settings, such as hepatitis B, influenza, and pneumococcal disease.
  • Report any suspicions of infection to the hospital staff immediately. They can help investigate and prevent the spread of infection.
  • Bring your own blankets and pillows whenever possible. This limits the possibility of coming into contact with surfaces shared with other patients.
  • Ensure that the hospital and its staff practice good hygiene and follow infection prevention protocols. This includes making sure that surfaces, bedding, and instruments are properly disinfected and sterilized.

By following these tips you can help ensure that you and your family are protected from hospital-acquired infections. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of HAIs, these measures can help reduce the chances of becoming ill.