The public is much more informed about healthcare issues than ever before. Access to information is readily available on the internet, in newspapers and magazines and from healthcare consumer organizations. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has published National Patient Safety Goals for the past several years and one of those goals is the prevention of healthcare acquired infections.
We, as hospital employees, take every precaution to prevent infections from spreading from patient to patient. But we also expect patients to be aware of things they can do to prevent infections both in and out of the hospital.
Clean your hands using soap and water. Rub your hands really well for at least 20 seconds. Teach your children to sing the ABC song, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, or another favorite song while washing their hands. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are readily available to use if your hands do not look dirty. To use this, rub the sanitizer all over your hands, especially under your nails and between your fingers. Rub until your hands are dry. You should always clean your hands with soap and water before touching or eating food. Wash them after you use the bathroom, take out trash, change a diaper, visit someone who is ill or play with a pet.
Make sure your doctors and nurses clean their hands and wear gloves. Health care providers should wear gloves when they perform tasks such as taking blood, touching wounds or body fluids, pulling teeth, cleaning dentures, emptying bedpans and urinals or cleaning or examining your private parts. Don't be afraid to remind them or ask them if they've cleaned their hands.
Cover your mouth and nose. Many diseases are spread through sneezing and coughing and by covering your mouth and nose you prevent spreading the infections to others. Whether you use a tissue or your hand to cover your mouth and nose, be sure to wash your hands right away.
When you are sick, avoid close contact and stay away from other people. Stay at home if you have a fever.
Check with your physician about getting a flu shot. There are certain at risk people who should receive a shot each season. Your doctor can advise you on whether you need one or not. Make sure your children receive their necessary immunization.
Diseases like colds, flu, strep throat, pneumonia, measles, mumps, chicken pox, rubella and tuberculosis are easily spread and it is important that we all do what we can to fight that spread of infection. Follow the above infection prevention measures and teach them to your children. You play a key role in preventing infection.
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