August 2, 2014
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Home    Quality and Patient Safety    Patient Safety    Preventing Infection    Prevention infections at home

What you can do to prevent infections and stay healthy at home and once you are discharged from the hospital.

Germs are everywhere. Most of the time, they don't make us sick because our bodies have defenses like our skin and immune system that protect us. Every once in a while, however, these germs do cause an infection.

Infections occur most frequently in hospitals and other health care settings like clinics and doctors' offices where people have weakened immune systems. Healthy people, however, can also get infections even when they are not in the hospital.

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do at home, at the gym, and in the hospital, that can help prevent infection.

Here are a few easy measures you can take in your daily life to stay healthy. 

At Home

Keep your hands clean.
Washing your hands regularly is the most powerful thing you can do to prevent infection. Make sure you always remember to wash after going to the bathroom, before you eat, or after taking out the trash. Since it can sometimes be hard to get to a sink, keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your car or bag.

Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze.
Use a tissue or even the bend in your elbow to prevent spreading germs to others. Make sure to wash your hands afterwards.

Take care of cuts, scratches and wounds. Your skin is your armor against harmful bacteria. Keep all cuts, scratches and wounds clean and protected with a clean, dry bandage. Don't "let it breathe" unless your doctor directs you differently. If cuts are not healing, see a doctor.

Keep your skin healthy. If it starts getting dry or cracking, apply moisturizing cream to keep skin soft.

Use prescription antibiotics responsibly. Be careful not to use prescription antibiotics too often. Doing this can actually make them less effective because it allows germs to build up resistance to medications. If you start taking antibiotics, be sure to take the full prescription. Stopping in the middle may allow the infection to return even stronger.

In the Community

If you are sick, avoid close contact with others. When you are sick, you should stay home from work or school, and avoid public transportation and other places where there are crowds. Also, don't shake hands or touch others. By doing these things other people won't get sick, and you'll get better faster.

Practice good hygiene at the gym. Make sure to always clean weights, exercise mats and aerobic equipment with antibacterial wipes before and after you use them. Wear flip flops in the shower and steam room to prevent athlete's foot or other infections. Shower after you work out and make sure you always use a clean towel to dry yourself.

Keep exercise equipment clean. If you or someone in your family plays ice hockey, football or any other sport that requires personal protective equipment, be sure that they wipe down this equipment with antibacterial wipes after every use. It's important not to share personal equipment.

MRSA/VRE Information for Caregivers caring for an infected family member

How to care for an infected family member at home.  If you are healthy, you are at low risk of developing an infection. Bacteria (MRSA or VRE) can be spread by physical contact with the person. Care should be taken to do the following:

Handwashing: Wash hands with soap and water before and after direct contact with the person with MRSA/VRE, and before leaving home.

Glove Use: Use gloves when providing care if body fluid contact is expected. ALWAYS WASH HANDS AFTER REMOVING GLOVES.

Linen: Linen such as towels should be used only once and placed with the laundry and washed on a routine basis.

Cleaning: The patient's environment (furniture, floors, bathrooms, etc.) should be cleaned routinely and when soiled with body fluids. Normal household cleaning products can be used.

To download and print an informational brochure, Click Here

 For additional information on patient safety information infection prevention, visit:

www.mass.gov/dph/dhcq
www.partnershipforhealthcare

Information Developed by The Partnership for Healthcare Excellence, to download a printable version of their patient brochure on preventing infection click here.

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