Proper hand washing is the single most important way to prevent infection during and following a hospital stay. Here are some additional recommendations about hand washing and other prevention methods.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling soiled materials, coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or using the bathroom.
- Do not be afraid to remind your doctor, nurses or other caregivers to wash their hands before touching you.
- Ask family and friends who have a cold, cough, fever or other respiratory symptoms not to visit you in the hospital.
- If you have a dressing over a wound or intravenous catheter (IV), keep the area clean and dry. Tell your nurse if the dressing becomes soiled, wet or loose.
- If you are a diabetic, talk to your doctor about the best way to control your blood sugar before, during and after your hospital stay. High blood sugars can increase your risk of infection.
- Smoking increases your risk of developing a lung infection. Ask your doctor or nurse to provide you with information on smoking cessation programs.
- Ask your doctor to avoid using a urinary catheter, if possible. If you need a catheter, ask your doctor to remove it as soon as possible. The catheter tube that drains urine from your bladder can be a source of infection.
- If you are overweight, losing weight before surgery will reduce your risk of infection.
- Follow your doctor's instructions about breathing treatments and getting out of bed. Deep breathing and activity can prevent lung infections. If pain is a concern, ask your nurse for pain medication and advice on reducing pain before doing these activities.