How to Be a Safe Patient

There are rising concerns over healthcare associated infections that can lead to sepsis and even death. These infections can be caused by devices used in healthcare and by bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. However, there are things patients, families and caregivers can do to reduce the risks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a list of 10 things you can do to be a safe patient.

How to Be a Safe Patient (from CDC)

  1. Speak up. Talk to your doctor about all questions or worries you have. Ask them what they are doing to protect you.
  2. Keep hands clean. Make sure everyone, including friends and family, clean their hands before touching you. If you don’t see your healthcare providers clean their hands, remember to ask them to do so.
  3. Ask each day if your central line catheter or urinary catheter is necessary. Leaving a catheter in place too long increases the chances of getting an infection. Let your doctor or nurse know immediately if the area around the central line becomes sore or red, or if the bandage falls off or looks wet or dirty.
  4. Prepare for surgery. Ask your doctor how he/she prevents surgical site infections and how you can prepare for surgery. Let your doctor know about any medical problems you have.
  5. Ask your healthcare provider, “Will there be a new needle, new syringe, and a new vial for this procedure or injection?” Insist that your healthcare providers never reuse a needle or syringe on more than one patient.
  6. Get smart about antibiotics. Ask if tests will be done to make sure the right antibiotic is prescribed in the proper dosage, frequency and duration. Remember that antibiotics don’t work against viruses like the ones that cause the common cold.
  7. Watch out for deadly diarrhea (aka Clostridium difficile). Tell your doctor if you have 3 or more diarrhea episodes in 24 hours, especially if you have been taking an antibiotic.
  8. Know the signs and symptoms of infection. Some skin infections, such as MRSA, appear as redness, pain, or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgery site and come with a fever. Infections can also lead to sepsis, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and other infection signs. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms.
  9. Get vaccinated. Getting yourself, family, friends and caregivers vaccinated against the flu and other infections to help prevent spread of disease.
  10. Cover your mouth and nose. When you sneeze or cough, germs can travel 3 or more feet. Use a tissue and to avoid spreading germs with your hands.

Infections in healthcare are not only a problem for healthcare facilities – they represent a public health issue that requires many people and organizations to work together in a comprehensive effort to attack these largely preventable infections. CDC is working with partners and states to implement infection prevention tools toward the elimination infections in healthcare. For more information on how you can be a safe patient, visit: Patient Safety: What You Can Do to Be a Safe Patient.

Assisted Living Services wants its clients and families to be well informed on healthcare and caregiving issues. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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