As a result, since 2001, medical professionals have reduced HAIs in intensive care unit patients by 58 percent, saving close to 27,000 lives and $1.8 billion dollars. Furthermore, infections associated with central lines (one of the deadliest and most common HAIs) were reduced by 73 percent.
Another effort to prevent HAIs focuses on the education of medical professionals and a regulation of the settings or procedures that provide outpatient care. Previously, infection prevention strategies were far less comprehensive for patients receiving care in their homes, hemodialysis centers or in ambulances. By providing guidelines and recommendations on sterilization and disinfection of equipment, the CDC has helped to reduce infection rates overall.
So, what can you do to protect yourself from acquiring an infection in a health care setting? You may feel helpless to prevent some of the more serious conditions, but there is plenty we can each do to prevent transmission.
1. Wash your hands often and thoroughly. It sounds silly, but it saves lives.
2. Speak up! Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have and ask what they will do to protect you. Clarify, "will there be a new needle, new syringe, and a new vial for this procedure or injection?" The answer should always be yes.
3. Follow directions for taking medication. Take it exactly as prescribed and do not take it if it is not recommended by a doctor. Remember that antibiotics will not cure a virus like the flu or the common cold. This will help to prevent drug resistance.
4. Follow the directions for pre-surgery preparation. Clean the site as your provider recommends.
5. Know the signs of an infection and learn more about the symptoms of MRSA, C. difficile or surgical site infections. Speak to your doctor if you suspect any problems.
6. Read more about HAI at http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/index.html!
“Healthcare-Associated Infections.” September 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/hais.htm
“Healthcare Associated Infection.” September 2011. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA.