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How Can Patients Prevent Infections While In The Hospital? - Nurse Berntsen (VIDEO)

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Nurse Karin Berntsen shares three ways a woman can prevent infections while staying in the hospital.

Karin Berntsen:
Hospital infections is a growing problem in the United States. No hospital is exempt from the different bacteria, the strains of different bacteria with the, sometimes the antibiotics becoming resistant to different strains of bacteria. So as a patient you don’t want to get an infection. You really want to be healthy. If you are going in for surgery you want it to go well.

So there are a couple of more things you can do specifically related to the spread of infection. In my book, “The Patient’s Guide to Preventing Medical Errors,” I do have over 220 tips and many of those are related to preventing infections. It’s very important that if you are going to have surgery you speak with your doctor about an antibiotic and the administration of an antibiotic.

Now not every surgery requires that you have a preventative antibiotic, but some of the key surgeries do require that you receive only a prophylactic or preventative antibiotic up to two hours before your surgery and for 24 hours after your surgery.

A lot of those surgeries are things like bone surgery. It could be general surgery; it could be hysterectomies – those are surgeries that there are certain preventative antibiotics that will help you from getting an infection. So, talk to your doctor about that. Ask which antibiotic you will be given for the procedure, and again, not all surgeries require that you have an antibiotic.

Another important thing that I referred to earlier is the hand hygiene. It’s very important, particularly if you are having surgery or in the hospital to not only make sure that healthcare provider, that those folks are washing their hands, but that you use good hand hygiene. You don’t want to touch wounds. You don’t want to touch maybe IV lines – those type of things you might inadvertently touch. You want to make sure that your hands are clean. You can ask for little hand wipes to utilize before you eat or when your hands might be soiled.

The other important thing is if you do have any kind of lines in, and when I say lines I define those as IVs that may be running in you, sometimes they put in special lines if you have a prolonged illness to help give you nutrients through those lines, sometimes it might be a urinary catheter. You want to get those lines out as soon as it’s safe for you and as soon as your doctor says it’s okay. Everyday that you keep those kinds of lines in you have a higher risk of getting an infection through those. So please talk to your doctor about any catheters that you may have or lines that you may have in the hospital.

About Karin Berntsen, R.N.:
Karin Berntsen, R.N., is the Director of Quality and Risk Management at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California. She is also the Patient Safety Officer for the hospital. Nurse Berntsen has worked at Alvarado for more than four years, authored two books on patient safety, and believes passionately that all patients should have the best, safest care possible when they are in the hospital.

Visit Nurse Berntsen at Alvarado Hospital