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Infection prevention week focuses on infections

October 20-26 is International Infection Prevention Week. This year’s theme, “Infection Prevention Is Everyone’s Business,” aims to bring awareness of the need to protect patients and the public from the risk of infection. State health officials are using the week as an opportunity to highlight what patients and physicians can do to reduce the risk of healthcare associated infections when a patient receives medical care.

“Healthcare associated infections are preventable,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D., “but both patients and healthcare providers have a role to play. It’s important for each to understand their individual responsibilities. For example, clean hands are essential to preventing infections. It’s okay to ask healthcare providers to wash their hands before touching you.”

Healthcare associated infections occur when germs enter the body during medical care. These infections can include surgical site infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and bloodstream infections.

Patientsshould follow the tips below to help reduce their risk of acquiring an infection during medical care:

·        Wash your hands with soap and water. Ask healthcare workers and visitors to do the same.

·        If you are having surgery, ask if you should shower with germ killing soap ahead of time.

·        If your room looks dirty, ask to have it cleaned.

·        Sneeze and cough into your elbow, not your hand.

·        Do not visit the hospital if you are sick or have had any ill symptoms within the last three days.

·        If you are visiting a patient on “isolation precautions,” follow those special precautions carefully.

Healthcare providersshould follow the 10 steps below to protect patients and themselves:

·        Wash your hands before and after you provide care to a patient.

·        Use gloves the right way.

·        Ensure you and your family are properly immunized.

·        Follow the rules of isolation.

·        Follow safe injection practices: one needle, one syringe, only one time.

·        Make patient identification a priority: right drug, right time, right dose.

·        Keep the patients room and equipment clean.

·        Know when antibiotics are appropriate and when they are not.

·        Make sure your attire does not become a source of infection.

·        Get to know the infection preventionist at your hospital.

Healthcare associated infections are reportable to the Indiana State Department of Health, which plans to release the first Indiana Healthcare Associated Infections report in the next few months.