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Six Important Things to Know About Preventing Hospital Infections

Infection Control Professional Offers Patient Tips to Guard Against Hospital Infections

KANSAS CITY, Kan., April 02, 2007 /PRNewswire/ -- Hospital infections are among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There are countless stories about patients who go into hospitals with minor conditions and leave under much graver circumstances. As a patient, knowing the right questions to ask about how hospitals prevent infections is extremely important.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control published new infection-control guidelines last October outlining strategies to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections in health-care settings that affect about 2 million people every year.

According to Nina Shik, RN, an infection-control professional at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., "those guidelines are critical since the proportion of bacteria resistant to antibiotics has risen sharply the past three years." By 2004, nationally, 63 percent of the bacteria that cause "staph" infections had become resistant to antibiotics commonly used to kill them; in 1972, only two percent of these types of bacteria were drug resistant.

Here are six suggestions Shik encourages patients to follow to determine if a hospital is doing enough to ensure patient safety:

    1.  Talk to your physician:  Ask your doctor or surgeon about possible

        risks of infection associated with a particular procedure or test and

        what specific steps will be taken to reduce the risks of infection.


    2.  Adopt a good reporter's tactics:  Watch -- before and after an

        examination, do doctors wash their hands?  If not, ask them to do so.

        Look around, is the hospital environment clean?  Signs of unclean

        hospitals include dirty floors, dirty countertops, clutter and

        health-care workers wh
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