Your Care - Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections

The Hospital’s Infection Control Program strives to prevent hospital-acquired infections. Germs and infections can travel between patients, staff, and visitors. Our Infection Prevention and Control staff work with the entire healthcare team to decrease your risk of getting an infection while in the hospital. Everyone plays a role in keeping the number of infections as low as possible. You too can help prevent infections as a critical part of the team.


Please review these steps to help protect yourself while you are in the hospital:

Hand Hygiene

Practicing good hand hygiene is the single most important thing you can do to stop the spread of infection. Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand wash frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before eating. Ask relatives and friends to properly clean their hands when visiting. Remind people caring for you to wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand wash before touching you. It’s okay to ask hospital personnel and physicians if they have washed their hands.


Surgical Site Infections

Most patients who have surgery do well, but sometimes patients get infections. This happens to about 3 out of 100 patients who have surgery. Here are some ways that you can help lower the risk of infection after surgery:

  • If you have diabetes or high blood sugar, be sure to ask your doctor about the best ways to control your blood sugar. People with high blood sugar have a greater chance of getting infections after surgery.

  • Keep warm. Ask for blankets or other ways to stay warm while you wait for surgery. Keeping warm before surgery lowers your chance of getting an infection.

  • Speak up if someone tries to shave you with a razor before surgery. Clippers should be used instead of a razor for hair removal. Talk with your surgeon if you have concerns.


Bloodstream Infections
Many patients need intravenous (IV) medications and may need a central venous catheter (or line) placed into one of their veins. Lines are often very helpful but sometimes they cause infections when bacteria grow in the line and spread into the patient’s bloodstream. These are a few ways that you can help lower the risk of a central line infection:

  • If you have an IV, keep the site clean and dry. Tell your nurse if it becomes loose or wet.
  • Make sure the doctors and nurses check the line every day for signs of infection.
  • If your line is no longer being used, ask your doctor or nurse if it can be removed.
Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection is the most common type of hospital-acquired infection. Urinary tract infections in hospitals are mainly caused by the use of urinary catheters. Things you can do to help prevent urinary tract infections are:

  • Avoid using a urinary catheter whenever possible. Before having a urinary catheter inserted, talk to your doctor about other alternatives.

  • Have your doctor or nurse remove the urinary catheter as soon as possible.
  • Drink plenty of water or cranberry juice daily. Fluids help flush your urinary tract.
  • Wipe from front to back (if you are female), reducing the bacteria that will spread from your anus into your urinary tract.
Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP)

Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP) is a lung infection that happens to patients who are on ventilators (machines to help you breathe). Steps that are taken to prevent VAP are:

  • Good oral hygiene for patients that are on the ventilator.
  • Raising the head of the patient’s bed between 30 and 40 degrees.
  • Removing the patient from the ventilator as soon as the patient can breathe on his or her own.

To prevent pneumonia, take precautions to avoid the organisms that cause respiratory infections, including colds and flu. Wash your hands often.

  • Rest is an important part of treatment but moving often and getting out of bed and into a chair is encouraged.

  • Always carefully follow instructions about breathing treatments. Use deep breathing exercises and therapy to clear secretions and help prevent pneumonia.

  • Smoking can lead to infections. If you smoke and need help to stop, please let your nurse know. This is a non-smoking hospital.

  • Several types of pneumonia can be prevented with the use of vaccines. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being vaccinated for pneumonia.

  • Influenza can lead to pneumonia. During flu season (October through March) talk to you nurse or doctor about being vaccinated for the flu.

  • Tell relatives and friends not to visit you if they have a cold or feel sick.


Clostridium Difficile (C-diff)
C-diff is a germ that can cause diarrhea. Most cases occur in patients taking antibiotics. The most common symptoms of C-diff include: Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain, and/or fever.


What you should know and do about C-diff:

  • People using antibiotics for a prolonged period of time are more likely to contract C.diff.
  • To lower the risk of developing C-diff, discuss with your doctor about limiting the use of antibiotics.
  • Closely monitor yourself or loved one who is taking antibiotics for symptoms of C-diff and tell your healthcare provider immediately if you have symptoms.

  • C-diff is found in feces; therefore cleaning your hands often is very important. Be sure to clean your hands especially after using the bathroom and before eating.

  • Make sure that all doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers clean their hands. If you do not see your healthcare provider clean their hands, please ask the to do so.