Healthcare systems are here to help patients get better, but some hospital procedures can make you more susceptible to common bacteria putting you at risk for infection.
Every day about one in 25 hospital patients will get an infection caused by their medical care, over 44 percent of them will be over the age of 65 and one out of every nine will die as a result.
Infections occur most commonly in one of five sites:
- Urinary tract
- Gastrointestinal tract
- Surgical site
Hospitals are working hard to reduce the rate of healthcare-acquired infections. In the last five years the number of blood stream infections caused by central lines has been cut almost in half but patients need to be aware of what they can do to protect themselves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends six steps you can take to be informed, prepared and empowered when it comes to healthcare-acquired infections:
1. Speak up
Talk to your medical team. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have questions or concerns about your care. Your team wants to do all they can to make you comfortable and confident in your care.
2. Keep hands clean
Be sure everyone who enters your room cleans their hands before touching you or the objects around you; this includes your medical team and visitors. Clean hands are your best protection from the spread of bacteria especially those that cause respiratory and gastrointestinal infection.
3. Get smart about antibiotics
Ask your medical team if tests have been done to make sure your receiving the right antibiotic. Per the CDC up to 50 percent of all the antibiotics prescribed are not needed or are not optimally effective as prescribed.
4. Know the signs and symptoms of infection
Skin infections present as redness, pain or drainage around surgical or IV site and will often be accompanied by a fever. Tell your care team immediately if you notice these symptoms.
5. Watch out for deadly diarrhea
The clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacteria can cause life-threatening diarrhea especially in the elderly or those with an illness the required long-term antibiotic use. Tell your medical team if you have three or more episodes of diarrhea in a 24-hour period, especially if you are or have been taking antibiotics.
6. Protect yourself
Get vaccinated against the flu and other infections to avoid complications.
Learn more about how to protect yourself, download the infographic on healthcare acquired infections and patient safety.
According to the SC Hospital Infections Disclosure Act, SRHS reports certain hospital acquired infection data to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. Infection data for all SC hospitals may be found online at www.scdhec.gov.