Hospitals and healthcare institutions play a divine role in making people healthier and better than before. But at times, the same boon can become a bane when people come here to get better but have to suffer from hospital acquired infection, also called nosocomial infections.
Healthcare acquired infections are diseases people catch when they come to the hospital for treatment, checkup, or to meet a relative. Bacteria is the most common cause of hospital acquired infection, but there are other reasons. In this article, we will discuss the methods to prevent getting infected with hospital acquired infections.
What are Hospital or Healthcare Acquired Infection (HCAI)?
Hospital acquired infections are among one of the most significant causes of morbidity and mortality in a hospital or healthcare institution. Hospital acquired infections are infections and diseases that were not present when going to the hospital but showed after being hospitalised or coming back home from the hospital.
Such infections start incubating in the hospital and enter the body for one of many reasons. The typical time required for nosocomial infection is 48 hours, which means it takes this much time for an infection to manifest.
It has been a few years since hospitals and healthcare organisations have started to take these sorts of infections seriously. They are now putting up measures to prevent the manifestation of these infections. From putting up infection tracking and surveillance systems to including strict protection policies, hospitals are taking several measures to protect patients, hospital staff, and other individuals.
The most vulnerable groups of individuals who are at risk of getting infected when in hospital include premature babies, sick children, and elderly individuals. Plus, there are patients with weak immune systems and people with medical conditions like diabetes.
Plus, patients and individuals can be manifested with one of four types of infections in a hospital;
- Bloodstream Infection
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Wound Infection
- Pneumonia(Lung Infection)
For an individual visiting the hospital in any capacity, we have outlined some protection measures and methods to help you prevent the manifestation of a hospital acquired infection.
How to Prevent Hospital Acquired Infection?
Prevention of hospital acquired infection has different methods for healthcare workers and someone visiting the hospital for a checkup, admission, or as a visitor. Our blog will focus on the latter and help patients and visitors to stay safe while staying in the hospital.
Proper Hand Hygiene
Maintaining hand hygiene is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent hospital acquired infections. A simple act of washing hands while in the hospital and recurrently can prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Where healthcare workers are trained to wash their hands, doing the same is also necessary for the patients and visitors. Cleaning hands regularly can help prevent the spread of microorganisms. Visitors must wash their hands before touching the patient; the same applies to nurses. Moreover, they must also wash their hands after touching the patient and their surroundings.
One of the ways to promote hand washing is hanging posters around the premises, which acts as a reminder for the patients and visitors to keep their hands clean.
Patients are instructed to take a bath or clean themselves thoroughly on the day of the surgery. To prevent hospital acquired infection, you can bring your own toiletries and avoid using the items provided by the hospital.
If you are staying in the hospital with the patient, never use the same toiletries as the patient. Patients should follow the same practice and keep their toiletries separate.
Another lesser talked about prevention method is brushing your teeth, which will help prevent infections related to the mouth.
Stay Hydrated | Water is a Saviour
Staying hydrated in the hospital is one of the most important methods to stay healthy and prevent infections. The water you drink does the task of carrying nutrients to the cells, allows bacteria to flush out through the urine, and also prevents constipation.
Make it a habit of drinking at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day, and maintain this routine when you are visiting a hospital. In addition to drinking water, rely on other sources for hydration, like eating fruits and vegetables.
Keep your Surroundings Clean
Since hospitals are a major source of acquiring nosocomial infections and poorly maintained hospitals have a higher risk factor, you must make an effort to keep your surroundings clean. For the things and items you can touch, discard them immediately, but in the right bin type.
For the items that you should not touch, especially without asking the nurses first or without wearing protective gloves, refrain from doing the same. Moreover, keep your locker, bedside tables, and other storage items in the room clean. Declutter the tables and storage spaces regularly to throw out the waste and keep the things you need.
The more waste you keep around yourself and the patient, the higher the risk of infection. Therefore, make an effort to keep your surroundings clean and organised. As a result, you can quickly know if any waste item is lying around.
Follow the Infection Control Policy
Another way to prevent getting a hospital acquired infection is by following infection control policies and practices executed in the hospital. While the policy is built for the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff, some measures are inserted for the patients and visitors as well.
Inquire about the same from the hospital and make sure to follow them holistically. The policy also has information on what type of patients or patients with what sort of diseases or conditions are at a higher risk of being infected.
It also includes the isolation details and procedures, avoiding contact, and other instructions to be followed.
Reporting New Symptoms Immediately
One of the best ways to reduce hospital acquired infection from affecting your health is identifying any new symptoms and reporting them to the nurses as soon as possible.
Symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, fever, or any sort of discomfort which you didn’t feel initially must be reported. When reported on time, it will be easier for the nurses and doctors to take quick action and find a solution to the problem.
The incidence of these symptoms is most seen when patients have a cannula or urinary catheter inserted. These external items can easily carry an infection into the bloodstream and spread it throughout the body.
Don’t Touch Blood, Drips, Catheters, etc.
Patients and visitors should avoid touching items that can carry an infection or disease. You should never touch open wounds, catheters, drips, IV lines, used injections, bloodied cotton swabs, etc.
All of these and many other items carry several types of infections, which enter the bloodstream of a healthy visitor or another patient. However, sometimes you might have touched them without realising. That is why our first recommendation when visiting a hospital is to wash our hands regularly.
Stay Updated With Your Vaccinations
Vaccinations are an important part of staying protected and immune to a wide range of diseases and infections. Even though we are supposed to get all vaccinations in our childhood, new vaccinations are introduced.
Case in point: COVID-19 is highly contagious and can easily be marked as a healthcare acquired infection. Prevention of COVID includes wearing a mask always, and second is its vaccine.
Here, we are taking another reason to make you understand the importance of washing hands and keeping your surroundings clean. If you cannot find clean water to wash your hands, keep a small sanitiser bottle with you always.
Don’t Walk Barefoot
You may not have any reason to walk barefoot in a hospital, but we still want to share the point to keep you informed. Walking barefoot in a hospital can lead to carrying pathogens into the patient’s room.
Santokh Hospital Efforts For Preventing Hospital Acquired Infection
No patient would want to suffer from the consequences of getting diagnosed with an infection or disease. Even after all the precautions hospitals take, healthcare acquired infections are more common than you think. Where the onus of safeguarding the patients from all the infections and diseases is on the hospital, the patients and visitors must also practise precautions and preventative methods.
At Santokh Hospital, we make all the efforts to protect our patients and visitors from nosocomial infections. Our staff is trained and instructed to follow the regulatory and best practices for inhibiting the spread of hospital acquired infection. Our premises is regularly sanitised and deep cleaned for the safety of the staff, nurses, doctors, patients, and visitors.