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Why do patients need to be aware of infection controls?

Infections can be deadly to hospital patients, which is why most medical facilities take extreme measures to keep the spread of viruses and bacteria at the absolute minimum. Keeping temperatures lower in facilities, using bleach and other chemicals that destroy viruses and bacteria and employing sterilization techniques are usually all useful when keeping patients safe.

What other kinds of infection controls should hospitals use?

Additional methods of infection control include the following:

-- Antibiotic stewardship

-- Fecal waste management

-- Hand hygiene

-- Environmental disinfection

All can be used to keep the overall facility clean and free of potentially infectious substances. When these practices aren't followed or fail, the results can be devastating. For example, failing to sanitize materials between patients could lead to the spread of infectious bacteria like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. This is the most common hospital-acquired infection from pathogens. Others aren't far behind; e.g., Clostridium difficile, has spores that are difficult to wash off or disinfect.

How do these bacteria get so strong?

These organisms managed to survive and adapt to the techniques used to sanitize systems, equipment and materials in the past. They've lived in an environment where they mutated and became more resistant to destruction. To help prevent their spread now, hospitals need to have baseline practices in place that prevent infection. They need to fight bacteria of all types and make sure these pathogens can't emerge and adapt.

What should patients do to prevent infection?

Always ask to see your doctor put on gloves, and don't be scared to ask for anything to be wiped down with alcohol. Your safety comes first, and if you suffer an infection because of dirty equipment or poor safety practices, you might have to file a claim for damages for any adverse effects that you suffer.

Source: Becker's Hospital Review, "Identifying and addressing weak links in any infection control protocol," accessed Sep. 07, 2016

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