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Infection Prevention Week: Know How to Protect Yourself


Each year, thousands of people suffer harm or lose their lives as a result of healthcare-acquired infections from hospitals, doctor’s offices, or other medical facilities. Many of these infections are entirely preventable.

October 16th to 22nd, 2016 is International Infection Prevention Week. We wanted to call attention to the risks posed by healthcare-acquired infections. We also offer infection prevention tips and information on what you need to know about antibiotics.

If you or someone you love has already suffered a healthcare-acquired infection, as a result of doctor or hospital negligence, we urge you to contact us and have a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney review the facts surrounding the infection and your legal options.

colleran infection week riskThe Risks Associated with Infections

Many healthcare-acquired infections pose serious health risks. One of the main issues is that numerous infections have become resistant to antibiotics. Acquiring one of these infections can cause serious or life-threatening consequences.

The most common types of healthcare-acquired infections are:

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Central line-associated bloodstream infections

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Catheter-associated urinary tract infections

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Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)

Other infections that are contracted by patients in healthcare settings include hepatitis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS), influenza, MRSA infection, norovirus and tuberculosis.

colleran infection week images PQ 1According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 722,000 people contracted healthcare-acquired infections while undergoing treatment in U.S. acute care hospitals in the span of one year. Even more alarming is the fact that one in 25 patients contracts a healthcare-acquired infection every single day, according to the CDC. Nearly 10 percent of those with healthcare-acquired infections die before they can be released from the hospital.

A hospital-acquired infection indicates a failure in a medical facility’s system for preventing the spread of infections and safeguarding patients. The prevention of healthcare-acquired infection requires better education of healthcare workers about infection control, systematic handwashing, thorough sterilization of medical equipment and disinfection of hospital rooms.
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Tips to Prevent Infections

What can patients do to avoid contracting infections in hospitals? The National Patient Safety Foundation® (NPSF) recommends patients follow these infection prevention tips:

Prior to surgery or treatment :

  • Ask questions so you understand your treatment, the procedures you will undergo and what the outcomes are expected to be.
  • Talk to your doctor about anticipated risks associated with diabetes, obesity, or smoking (as applicable) and find out what can be done to reduce those risks. Lowering blood sugar levels and shedding excess weight can lower the risk of infection. Those who don’t smoke are less likely to develop a harmful lung infection following surgery. Addressing each of these can speed recovery time as well.

In any healthcare facility:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom or handling any soiled material.
  • Remind doctors and nurses about doing the same before working with you.
  • Ensure your wound dressings are clean and dry.
  • Alert a nurse if a catheter or drainage tube begins to leak, feels loose or gets dislodged.
  • Speak with your doctor about controlling blood sugar levels, if you have diabetes.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions, particularly pertaining to breathing treatments and mobility. Ask for help when you need it.
  • Ask friends and relatives to visit later if they are exupesencing signs or symptoms of a cold or any other disease that could be spread.

colleran infection week pillsWhat You Need to Know About Antibiotics

Patients need to understand that antibiotics do not kill viruses, only bacteria. If you contract a viral infection, antibiotics will not resolve the condition. When antibiotics are overprescribed, bacteria can easily morph into antibiotic-resistant superbugs. When antibiotic resistance occurs, any infections you contract in the future can be harder to treat. If no effective treatment can be found, a bacterial infection can prove fatal.

The non-profit organization, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), advises patients to use only antibiotics that have been specifically prescribed by a healthcare provider, and patients should carefully follow the exact instructions. Antibiotics should not be used if you have a cold, the flu, a cough, bronchitis, a sore throat, a runny nose, or an earache that is the result of a virus, rather than caused by bacteria.

Those who are uncertain about whether they may need antibiotics should speak up. Ask your healthcare provider if you really need the antibiotic or if you can get well without it. Are there side effects of which you need to be aware?

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If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of a healthcare-acquired infection, speak with a skilled healthcare-acquired infection lawyer at The Colleran Firm today. We encourage everyone to sign the infection prevention pledge, as prevention starts with you!

Sources:

The attorneys at The Colleran Firm handle serious injury cases caused by health care provider negligence and medical malpractice in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.

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The Colleran Firm

2005 Market Street | Suite 1940
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-972-8000