Patients urged to tell hospital workers to "wash their hands" to avoid hospital acquired infections

May 23, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
If you have to go into the hospital it is critical that you know how to protect yourself from infections. ABC's Nightline reports that more than two million people contract infections while they are in U. S. hospitals annually of which 90,000 die. According to an article in the Washington Post, "…..Patients with hospital-acquired infections spent many more days in the hospital, underwent more extensive procedures and were seven times more likely to die, deaths that many experts say were largely preventable. Though the findings were from a single state, industry analysts said the problem of hospital-acquired infections is universal."

What can patients do to protect themselves? One of the ways, according to ABC’s Dr. Tim Johnson, is to ask every doctor and nurse to wash their hands before they touch you. Even if you are little timid, ask.

In the award-winning patient safety film, "Things You Should Know Before Entering the Hospital," ( hospital nurse admits she has never been asked to wash her hands by a patient but says she would gladly comply if someone did.

Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, authors of "YOU: The Smart Patient," said that “patients can protect themselves by aggressively insisting on clean hands. The rule is that everyone — doctors, nurses, orderlies — must wash their hands between each patient. If you don't see them do it, ask them to. Also, make sure your visitors wash their hands and have hand sanitizer available for them to use.” Their book has numerous tips that can help a patient avoid infection.

"Human error is a fact in healthcare just as in the rest of life, and we all must be educated on what to be watchful of regarding things that might go wrong," said Martin J. Hatlie, Esq., President of Partnership for Patient Safety.

Arm yourself with information about patient safety before you go into the hospital. There are many resources on the internet and at libraries.