The Key To Controlling The Spread Of Infection
Without proper precautions, germs can easily spread among patients, visitors and
staff. That is why healthcare facilities take special steps to fight infection.
Washing hands properly makes a difference. The hands are home to many germs and are a major means of germ transmission. Wash your hands frequently. Visitors and patients should wash their hands:
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose
- Before and after eating
- After using the restroom
- After petting an animal
- If the hands are visibly dirty or contaminated
- Immediately after contact with body fluids (blood, saliva, etc.)
Always use soap and water hands are visibly dirty or contaminated. NOTE: If you do not see your providers clean their hands, pelase ask them to do so.
Use this hand washing technique:
- Remove any jewelry.
- Use warm water.
- Angle hands downward.
- Apply soap and lather well.
- Scrub well for at least 10-15 seconds; friction that removes germs.
- Wash under nails, around cuticles and between the fingers.
- Rinse hands angled downward.
- Dry hands with a paper towel.
- Use a new paper towel to turn off the faucet.
In addition to soap and water you will see foam dispensers at various locations in the hospital. This is an alternative method for washing your hands. Try this method for foam:
- Pull nozzle forward to dispense foam into hands.
- Rub hands together until dry, covering all surfaces of hands and fingers.
MRSA, or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is a germ that is resistant to the treatment of many antibiotics. People at risk include the elderly, patients from long term care facilities, those with frequent hospitalization, or those with open wounds or tubes / devices going into the body.
MRSA can cause either infection or colonization. Colonization, when the germ is present but the patient is not showing signs of symptoms of infection, usually does not requre treatment.
All patients with MRSA will be placed on Contact Precautions during their admission. Any patient readmitted to the facility with a history of MRSA will require Contact Precautions and screening for MRSA.
VRE, or Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci, is a germ that is resistant to the treatment of many antibiotics. People at risk include persons with weakened immune systems, persons who have had many antibiotics, those with extended hospitalizations, or those with tubes/devices going into the body.
VRE can cause either infection or colonization. Colonization, when the germ is present but the patient is not showing signs of symptoms of infection, usually does not requre treatment.
All patients with VRE will be placed on Contact Precautions during their admission. Any patient readmitted to the facility with a history of VRE will require Contact Precautions and screening for VRE.
Clostridium Difficile or C. Diff
C. diff is a germ that is normally found in the digestive tract. Many cases of C. diff are caused by antibiotics, which are used to treat other infections in the body. The antibiotics change the normal make-up of bacteria in the digestive tract, causing the C. diff to grow more than expected.
People at risk include patients on long-term antibiotic therapy, the elderly, women, patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, those with inflammatory bowel disease or renal disease, and those persons who are hospitalized.
Treatment for C. diff may simply require stopping current antibiotic therapy. If the patient is unable to stop current antibiotic therapy, additional antibiotic therapy with drugs which are not known to cause C. diff symptoms, may be prescribed.
All patients with C. diff will be placed on Contact Precautions while having loose stools. NOTE: It is important to remember that good hygiene with SOAP and WATER is the most effective way to prevent the spread of C. diff.
Respiratory Infection Precautions
Anyone with a respiratory infection should practice the following:
- Cover the nose/mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Use tissues to contain respiratory secretions
- Dispose of tissues in the nearest waste receptacle
- Perform hand washing after contact with secretions or contaminated material.
There are standard precautions that include washing of hands and wearing gloves when in contact with patients and body fluids. These precautions apply to ALL patients to help control the spread of infection. There are additional precautions that may be needed to protect you and your family. The nurse will inform you about these precautions if necessary.
Contact Precautions help prevent the spread of germs and are used for certain infections that are easily spread by contact. These germs are not carried through the air.
Visitors and healthcare providers should:
- Always wear gloves.
- Wear cover gown when coming in contact with the patient or environment.
- Remove gloves and gown before leaving the room.
- Wash hands after removing gloves and gown.
A stop sign will be placed outside the room instructing visitors to see the nurse before entering.
Your nurse will ask you about your vaccination status for pneumonia and influenza (September to April). Depending on your responses, you may be eligible to receive the vaccines while in the hospital. For further information, contact our infection control practitioner at ext. 6596 or 609.584.6596.