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How can I protect myself from germs in the hospital?

Towanda Stewart
Nursing

While simple hand-washing is one of the single most important things that you can do and ensure that all who come in contact with you, during your hospital stay, can do to help protect yourself from germs in the hospital, some other ways to help decrease the spread of infection is ensuring that visitors with colds cover their noses when coughing or sneezing; allowing staff to change bed linens; being compliant with medication regimens that include antibiotic therapy and supplements such as vitamin C (antioxidants);  being aware that germs also harbor on surfaces and may enter through the body through open sores and/ or body orifices (mouth, eyes, nose, cuts); and using but not substituting hand sanitizers for proper hand-washing. Remember…you are your best advocate for healthcare!

The number one way to stop the spread of germs is through proper hand washing.  Don’t assume that your doctor, nurse or any other member of the health care team that comes in contact with you has just washed their hands.  It is acceptable to ask them.  Similarly, make sure your visitors also wash their hands.
The proper way to wash your hands is by rubbing your hands together vigorously for 15-20 seconds with warm soapy water.  Make a soapy lather and rub all surfaces, including your writs, between your fingers, the back of your hands, under your fingernails and cuticles, and around your rings.  To keep track of how long 15-20 seconds is, sing “Happy Birthday” twice.  As a patient, you can also keep alcohol hand sanitizers nearby.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.