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How to prevent infections during your hospital stay
Tips for visitors
Cleansing hands is the easiest way to reduce the risk of spreading germs that cause infections.
How to wash your hands
To use alcohol rub, dispense a walnut-sized amount onto your hand and rub until dry before touching anything.
Cough or sneeze hygiene (respiratory hygiene)
You are an important part of the health care team.
If you are placed on special precautions to prevent transmission of infection, the nurse will review what the staff will be doing and what your responsibilities are. You will also receive information about your condition.
Catheter-related bloodstream infections
A central venous catheter (line) is put into a large vein so you can get intravenous (IV) medicines, blood, fluids and/or nutrition. The line can stay in place for days or weeks.
Everyone (you and your health care team members) should cleanse their hands before and after touching the line. Health care team members will check the skin around your line sit every day for signs of infection (redness, warmth, increased drainage or pain). They will also check every day to see if the line is necessary.
Surgery site infections
Tell your nurse if your incision is warm, painful, red, or has increased drainage.
Urinary catheter-related infections
Your chance of infection increases the longer your catheter remains in place. Tell your nurse if the urinary catheter comes out or it you have pain, pressure, or the sudden urge to urinate.
A ventilator is a machine that helps you breathe and supplies extra oxygen to the lungs. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a lung infection you can get while connected to the ventilator.
To prevent a lung infection:
How you can avoid getting an infection
Report concerns about safety to your nurse or to the hospital's patient representative office.
Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, How to Prevent Infections During Your Hospital Stay, ic-ahc-33302
Information adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota Department of Health, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, the Surgical Care Improvement Project Partnership, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 11/01/2004
Last Reviewed: 06/03/2011