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9 Ways To Reduce The Spread of Hospital-Acquired Infectious Diseases

When an elderly loved one is in the hospital, take these precautions to keep them safe.

By Martine Ehrenclou, M.A.

We all know about the dangers of staph infection, however there are newer deadly germs in town. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, drug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii and two other microbes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae, could soon produce a toll to rival MRSA, an antiobiotic-resistant strain of the staph bacteria. Hospital infections have become all too common and infection in the elderly can be particularly hazardous.

Although not a guarantee, here are a few simple steps to help diminish the risks of staph infection and other infections when a loved one, particularly an older loved one, is in the hospital:

     
  1. Ask everyone who comes in contact with the older loved one to wash their hands before touching the patient. Ask them to use anti-bacterial gel as well. Bring your own bottle to put at the patient’s bedside. Some hospitals have their own dispensers in the hospital rooms.
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  3. Ask the physician to clean his stethoscope with anti-bacterial gel on the flat, round part of the instrument before touching your loved one. Bring a pack of anti-bacterial wipes with you and leave them in the patient’s room.
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  5. Place a sign—you can write this yourself—above the patient’s bed, asking everyone to "Please wash your hands before touching me."
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  7. Ask the surgeon if your loved one can have antibiotics before their surgery to help prevent a hospital infection.
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  9. Ask for a private hospital room when possible. If there is no roommate, the patient has less people traveling into the room and that translates to a lower probability of transferring infection in the elderly patient.
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  11. Do not use the patient’s bathroom. Think about how many people on the medical staff use that bathroom for all kinds of purposes.
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  13. Don’t put your purse, briefcase or backpack on the floor or any surface of the hospital room—place a clean towel between the item and the hospital room surface. You could bring in bacteria and spread it.
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  15. Don’t bring children to your loved one’s hospital room. They could spread germs or leave with some.
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  17. After you touch the hospital elevator buttons, wash your hands. Think about how many people in that hospital touch those buttons and where they have been—in sick patients’ rooms!

Hospital stays are rarely pleasant. By taking these safety precautions, you can prevent your loved one’s condition from taking a turn for the worse.