Hospitals, by definition, are a place bacteria are easily tempted to call home. After all, hospitals see hundreds, if not thousands, of sick patients daily, and not only does that mean there are hundreds of germs entering the building, it also means there are hundreds of places for germs to settle down and start multiplying.

Studies have shown that while the number of illnesses caused by cross contamination in hospitals, also known as a nosocomial infection, has gone down over recent years, there is still much left to be desired in this area. The following are some of the things medical professionals can and should do while working in hospitals (or any other type of medical facility) to avoid health care-associated infection (HCAI).

Exam Gloves

Always, always wear gloves. If you are a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist or even the “lunch lady,” be sure to put on a fresh pair of medical-grade gloves before entering a patient room, transferring a patient or handling hospital equipment.

You may just be entering the room to adjust the height of the patient’s hospital bed, but by handling the controls without gloves, you are increasing the likelihood of germs traveling between patients. And when you’re done that and you’re moving on to get a cup of water for the next patient, your gloves might look clean to you, but they need to be changed.

In addition to changing gloves between every use, it is also crucial to wash your hands properly before donning a new pair.

Single Use Supplies

When caring for multiple patients, it may seem convenient and cost effective to reuse medical supplies for several patients. However, this is a big mistake and must be avoided at all costs.

Though it may seem obvious and even superfluous, this is an important point to note, as many products which seem to be reusable are, in fact, marked as “single patient” products and must be used as such.

Privacy Curtain Care

Hospitals are always careful about laundering items such as towels, bedding and patient gowns – but they aren’t so good about washing curtains, it seems.

Studies show that privacy curtains in hospitals contain a high volume of infestation from bacteria and the like, and may be a leading cause of HCAI. This can lead to cross-contamination between patients when handled by patients or healthcare providers.

In the same study, the curtains were showed to be the most infected after several weeks. For this reason, it is important to wash these curtains on a regular basis, as often as twice a month, to avoid spreading germs.

Although some of these precautionary measures may seem extreme to the unlearned, when it comes to preventing further spreading of illnesses and even death, the effort is well worth our while. In addition, these and other recommendations should be mandatory for all healthcare providers who are caring for multiple patients.

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