We all have to visit a hospital at one time or another. As we get older, our likelihood of suffering from illness increases, inevitably bringing us to the hospital. We may not always be the patient, however, as we go to visit our friends and family. A common misconception is that all hospitals are clean, but in fact, they are the exact opposite. Hospitals are one of easiest places to contract an illness.
Disease is everywhere
One of the major concerns in hospitals is hygiene. Simply touching an ill patient with a contractible disease and then touching a doorknob can spread an illness to a ton of people. This is a problem that hospitals recognize and try their best to mitigate by emphasizing good hygiene for everyone, including doctors and nurses. However, bacteria and viruses sometimes slip through the cracks.
Doctors and nurses typically carry stethoscopes, EKG’s, and wear lab coats. If these items are not sanitized on a regular basis, diseases can spread immensely.
What is more terrifying is that hospitals commonly have antibody resistant bacteria. This is a type of bacterium that is very difficult to treat and can be fatal. Clostridium difficile is another commonly contracted bacterium in the hospital setting that can lead to severe cases of. These types of infections are so common that they are called nosocomial—meaning it originated in a hospital.
Helpful tipsThere are a few things you can do to help protect yourself whether you’re a patient or just visiting. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists has the following tips:
- Sanitize your phone: We touch our phones every day, giving them the potential to carry harmful bacteria that may harm at-risk patients
- Don’t touch your face, nose, mouth, or any open cuts or wounds after touching anything in a hospital room: This includes bed rails, tables, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and anything else that is commonly touched by people.
- Avoid eating with unclean hands: A tip for both patients a visitors alike. It is important to wash your hands before preparing or eating food. Sanitize your hands before and after changing bandages, using the restroom, blowing your nose, or touching any surfaces too.
- Wash your hands with soap or use sanitizer: This is a general rule for everybody, including your doctor. If you notice that your doctor is not doing so, remind them! They won’t hold it against you. This is the best way to reduce the spread of harmful germs.
While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the threat of infection in hospitals, we have to do our best to reduce the risk. If everyone follows these simple tips and recognizes that hospitals can be dangerous, preventable disease may be avoidable.