7 tips for staying healthy at the hospital

It's tempting, and certainly convenient, to believe that hospitals are squeaky clean. But it's simply not the case. To help protect yourself from germs, follow these guidelines during your stay.

7 tips for staying healthy at the hospital

1. Keep you and your room clean

  • Despite diligent attempts to keep hospital-acquired infections under control, your room and even your doctor could carry nasty drug-resistant germs.
  • Drug-resistant germs could kill you, make you very sick or keep you in the hospital longer — exposing you to even more germs.
  • Microbes, such as bacteria that cause staph infections, lurk on bed rails, bedside tables, IV poles and various pieces of equipment that touch you.

2. Watch out for human errors

  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million people develop infections while staying in, or immediately following discharge from, US hospitals each year.
  • Nearly 100,000 die from infections each year.
  • Human error is partly to blame. For instance, doctors all too often neglect to take the simple step of washing their hands between patients.
  • Most doctors don't disinfect the stethoscope that recently touched another patient's chest.
  • According to one study, the TV remote control in your hospital room probably carries more bacteria than the toilet bowl handle.

3. Ask doctors and nurses to clean their hands

  • An alcohol-based hand cleaner will do the trick.
  • Ask nicely, but be brave. Failing to ask could put your health in jeopardy.
  • Even if your doctor is wearing gloves, the gloves are probably contaminated if the doctor didn't wash his or her hands before putting them on.

4. Ask that the stethoscope be disinfected

Wiping it with alcohol takes only seconds.

5. Wash your own hands

Do this especially after using the bathroom or handling items that could be contaminated. Wash for at least 15 seconds with warm, soapy water.

6. Don't touch your mouth with your hands

Germs that lurk on surfaces you touch can enter your body when you touch your mouth. This can cause infections.

7. Keep utensils on your food tray

Putting eating utensils on your bedside furniture increases the risk that they'll be contaminated.

You should stay in the hospital for as long as you need, and not a moment longer. To do this, you need to protect yourself from infections. Stay clean and vigilant, and you could be home more quickly.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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