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Preventing Hospital-Acquired Infections

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It is a fact that infections are an enormous health problem. Interestingly, it seems that the quickest place to catch one is at the hospital itself. One in 20 persons will acquire an infection soon after entering the hospital for treatment. On a even more extreme level, this problem causes almost 100,000 deaths each year, which, in turn, costs approximately $30 billion dollars in America alone.

There are standard infection control measures outlined for all hospitals. It includes precautions such as hand washing, injection safety and medication handling, equipment reprocessing, environment cleaning and handling of blood sugar monitoring equipment, as reported by ABCNews.go.com.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that independent surgical centers have been way more lax than hospitals. One doctor even encouraged staff to reuse vials to save money. The result was a hepatitis outbreak in which 100 people were affected.

What are some facilities doing to prevent infection? To be sure, many hospitals and medical centers are following infection control measures. In fact, Healthland.time.com reported simple steps some hospitals have put in place in the Quad City (Illinois and Iowa) area.

Using the “red box” safe zone or, to put it plainly, using duct tape to mark off from the door of the patient’s room, extending to a total of three feet into the patient’s room, has changed things considerably. As long as medical staff stand in this area, no infection gear need to be worn. But if staff needs to move beyond the safe zone, they will need to gear up. How does this help? Seemingly, plenty. This procedure saved the staff time, improved emotional effect on patients and staff, and actually improved patient-doctor relationship – all while not spreading infection.

On the same note, researchers have found that to swab the surgical area with a Q-tip cut infection from 19% to 3%. It is thought that the swabbing motion may encourage the release of whatever infection in the area; researchers are not sure at this point. Further, doing this simple step on a daily basis decreased hospital time from five to three days, lowered pain, and helped to leave less scarring.

So what can patients do to pick the right medical facility or hospital to lower the chances of developing an infection? If at all possible, make sure your surgery will take place at a hospital or a facility associated with a hospital.

Best in Health!


New Use for Duct Tape: Fighting Infection

Fighting Infection: Inside Surgery Centers

Significant reduction of wound infections with daily probing of contaminated wounds: a prospective randomized clinical trial.

Reviewed July 25, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle

Dita Faulkner loves to write about things that make women tick. See her blog at:


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.