What You Need To Know Before Surgery.

This information is from WWW.hospitalinfection.org  Most of us will have to go to the hospital someday.  Here are specific steps you can follow to protect yourself from deadly hospital infections:

1.  Ask that hospital staff, clean their hands before treating you.  This is the single most important way to protect yourself in the hospital.  If you’re worried about being too aggressive, just remember your life could be at stake. All caregivers should clean their hands before treating you. Do not hesitate to say the following to your doctor or caregiver: “excuse me, but there’s an alcohol dispenser right there.  Would you mind using that before you touch me, so I can see it?” Don’t be falsely assured by gloves. Gloves more often protect staff and patients. If caregivers have pulled on gloves without quitting their hands first, the gloves or are ready contaminated before they touch you.

2.  Before your doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to your chest, asked that the diaphragm(or flat surface of the stethoscope) be waived with alcohol. Numerous studies show that stethoscopes are often contaminated with Staphlococcus aureus and other dangerous bacteria, because caregivers seldom take the time to clean them between patients use.  The American Medical Association recommends that stethoscopes routinely be cleaned for each patient. The same precautions should be taken for many other commonly used pieces of equipment too.

3. Ask visitors to clean their hands and avoid sitting on your bed.

4. If you need surgery, choose a surgeon with a low infection rate.  Surgeons know their rate of infection for various procedures.  Ask for it. If they don’t tell you, consider choosing another surgeon.  He should be able to compare hospital infection report cards in every state.

5. Beginning three to five days before surgery, shower daily with 4%cholorhexidine soap.  Drug stores that don’t stock chlorhexidine soap are generally happy to order it for you. You don’t need a prescription.  Only the easiest brands to find is hibiclens. Using the soap will help remove any dangerous bacteria.  You may be caring on your own skin that could enter your surgical incision and cause an infection. Keep the soap away from your eyes and ears.

6. Ask your surgeon if he has been tested for Staphylococcus aureus a least one week before you come into the hospital.  This test is simple, usually just nasal swab. About one third of people carry Staphylococcus aureus on their skin, and if you are one of them, extra precautions can be taken to protect you from infection, to give you the correct antibiotic during surgery, and to prevent you from transmitting bacteria to others.

7. Stop smoking well in advance of your surgery.  Patients who smoke or three times as likely to develop the surgical site infection than nonsmokers, and have significantly slower recoveries and longer hospital stays.

8. On the first of your operation, remind your doctor that you may need an antibiotic one hour before the first incision.  For many types of surgery, a pre-surgical antibiotic is the standard of care, but it is often overlooked by busy hospital staff.

9. Ask your doctor about keeping you warm during surgery. Operating rooms are often kept cold for the comfort of the staff, a research shows that many types of surgery, patients who were kept warm resist infection better. There are many ways to keep a patient warm, including special blankets, hats and booties, and warmed IV liquids.

10. Do not shave the surgical site. Razors can create small nicks in the skin, through which bacteria can enter.  If hair must be removed before surgery, asked the Clippers be used instead of a razor.

11. As that your surgeon limit the number of personal (including medical students) in the operating room. Every increase in number of people as to your risk of infection.  

12. Ask your doctor about monitoring your glucose (sugar) levels continuously during and after surgery, especially if you’re having cardiac surgery.  The stress of the surgery often makes glucose levels spike erratically.  New research shows that when blood glucose levels are tightly controlled to stay between 80 — 110 mg/unit, her patients resist infection better.  Continue monitoring, even when you are discharged from hospital, because you are not fully healed yet.

13. Avoid a urinary tract catheter, if possible.  It is a common cause of infection.  The tube allows year-end to flow from the bladder out of your body. Sometime catheters are used when busy hospital staff don’t have the time to walk patients to the bathroom.  Ask for a day per or bed pan instead.  They’re safer.

14. You if you must have an IV, make sure that it is inserted and removed under clean conditions and changed every three to four days.  Intravenous catheters, or IV’s, or common source of infection and are not always necessary.  If you need one, insist that it is inserted and removed under clean conditions, which means that your skin is cleaned at the site of the insertion, and the person treating you is wearing clean gloves and is washed her hands.  Alert hospital staff immediately if redness appears.

15. If you’re planning on having a baby by Cesarean, follow the steps listed above as if you were having any other type of surgery. Most mothers today in our worried about hospital infections.  But if you’re having a cesarean, you are 10 times more at risk of infection, and if you’re giving birth vaginally.

Ideally, you should choose a hospital with a low infection rate.  Good luck at getting that information.  It’s impossible.  Many states collect data on infections that lead to serious injury or death, but nearly every site — with the exception of 6 — has given into the hospital’s industry demands to keep the information secret.  The Federal Centers For Disease control and Prevention also collect information that are from hospitals across the nation, but refused to make it public.  Government is too often on their backs, instead of on our side.

What’s the answer? Hospital infections, report cards.  Hospitals object that comparisons would be unfair because hospitals that treat sicker patients, such as AIDS, cancer, and transplant patients who have weakened immune systems, will have a higher infection rate.  True, but the data can be risk-adjusted to make comparisons fair.  What is unfair is preventing the public from knowing which hospitals have infection epidemics.  Keep the infection rate secret, may help hospitals save face, but won’t save lives. 

This is memory of my father, Lieutenant Commander Dale E. Newman who died June 6, 2002. My father went into the hospital for cancer. The cancer was removed but, my father died from a secondary infection which the well known cancer hospital in Pennsylvania would not tell us what it was?


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