You might think of hospitals as sterile safety zones in the battle against germs. In actuality, they’re ground zeroes for the invasion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated that 1 in 25 hospitalized people in the U.S. develop healthcare-associated infections (HAI) every day. Of that, 1 in 9 die. That’s more than twice the number of people who die each year in car crashes (source). Germs in hospitals are no laughing matter. The good news is, there are precautions you can take to shield yourself from these bugs during your next hospital stay.
Germs in Hospitals: What’s the Risk?
All hospitals have infection-control procedures and policies, and healthcare professionals take every precaution to avoid infections. However, hospitals are pooling places for sick people and the germs they carry. That means the risk of infection can never be completely eliminated. Just walking into a hospital puts you at a greater risk of contracting an infection. But you’re particularly vulnerable if you’re immunosuppressed, elderly, or an infant – or if you’re there for surgery, because cutting the skin and sticking tubes into the body provides germs new means of access.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, other risk factors that may increase your likelihood of acquiring germs in hospitals include the following:
- Length of stay
- Type of operation or surgical procedure
- Poor hand hygiene practiced by hospital staff and patients
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Use of invasive equipment such as urinary catheters, IV drips and infusions, respiratory equipment, and drain tubes
- Wounds, incisions, burns, or ulcers
- Admission to high-risk areas like intensive-care units (ICU) and high-dependency units (HDU)
Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections
Encountering germs in hospitals is unavoidable. The constant influx of patients and their family members makes hospitals a breeding ground for HAI. But you can help prevent your risk of contracting these infections by practicing the following precautions:
- Investigate your hospital. If you or a loved one are going to the hospital for a scheduled surgery, do your research and find out how well your hospital controls infections. Twenty-six states have laws requiring hospitals to publicly disclose their infection rates. Contact your state’s health department and ask where you can get hospital stats, or visit StopHospitalInfections.org for links to infection reports.
- Know the signs of infection. Even if the hospital takes every possible precaution, you could still get an infection. Possible symptoms include the following: a fever, dizziness, increasing pain, redness, warmth, swelling, or pus around the incision as well as inside your body. If you experience any of these symptoms after surgery, alert your doctor immediately.
- Insist on clean hands. Washing your hands is the most effective way to prevent HAI. Germs in hospitals linger on door handles and other surfaces. You, your visitors, and your doctor should all be washing your hands thoroughly. In addition to your hand-washing regime, bring a hand sanitizer with you to the hospital. Products like the SafeSpace Instant Hand Sanitizer can help extend protection even after the product has dried. Plus, because it does not contain alcohol, the SafeSpace Instant Hand Sanitizer will not dry out your hands (which can cause cracks in the skin that let in germs and bacteria).
- Get out of the hospital. Every day you’re in the hospital increases your risk of developing an infection. Work with your caregivers to meet recovery goals on or before the scheduled date. Get well and get out of the hospital as soon as possible.
- Clean and disinfect your home. After surgery and exposure to bugs, you are at greater risk for infection. Ask family members to clean and disinfect your home before you’re released from the hospital. They can use a disinfectant product like the SafeSpace Germ Fogger to eliminate germs with a push of a button. Plus, when fully discharged, this fogger eliminates 99 percent of germs that cause the flu, common cold, Staph, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and more with a cloud of EPA-approved disinfectant.
The SafeSpace Company is a family-owned small business proudly selling American-made germ foggers, auto germ and odor eliminators, and alcohol-free hand sanitizers to keep your family safe and healthy. For more information about our products, contact us online or call us toll free at 1-800-735-2506. We’d love to hear from you!