Monday, June 25, 2007

Germs, germs, germs Oh My.

A new study has been released by the American Association of Infection Control and Epidemiology Professionals (APIC). Essentially1237 hospitals in the United States were surveyed (21% of US hospitals). The number of patients in a hospital who had Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA), either with signs and symptoms of infection(infected) or present in the body but not producing symptoms (colonized) were counted. 34 per 1000 were infected. 12 per 1000 were colonized. 75% entered the hospital or Nursing Home already infected. The organism was 9-11 times more common than initially thought. The patients either acquired the organism in the community or from a previous hospital stay.

What does all that mean?
  • It means you can acquire the organism at any time, even if you are not hospitalised.
  • Not all the infections in the hospital are the hospital's fault since patients come in with the infection so often.
  • If you visit someone in the hospital, wash your hands if you touch them or anything in the room.
  • If you are a patient make sure the healthcare workers clean their hands before they touch you, even the nurse, even the doctor.
  • It's not only Ok for you to ask people to clean their hands before touching you, it's imperative for your health.
  • If you work in the hospital, you are not only protecting the patient and fellow healthcare workers by washing hands, you are protecting yourself.

Nurses must be patient advocates. Patients also have to be their own advocate and the handwashing rules apply just as much in the doctor's office, dentists office or outpatient clinic as in the hospital itself. Keep everyone safe.

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