HAI: What You Need to Know About Hospitals

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No one is in a hospital by choice, but when one is there, we expect to get better, not become sicker. Being safe and well requires knowledge of some of the common Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) that can pose a threat to your health while in a hospital.

doctor in a hospital surgery site

Know Your Risk in a Hospital Environment

Medication Mishaps

One of the most serious risks in hospitals is being prescribed the wrong amount or type of medication. This is often a result of a nurse or pharmacist misreading a doctor’s handwriting or just sheer human error.

One Institute of Medicine report from 2006 estimated that there are 450,000 injuries resulting from medication errors in hospitals every year, and possibly more that go unreported.

MRSA and Other Infections

The next biggest threat is the infection with a bacteria or virus. There are many terrible infections contracted in hospitals.

According to the CDC, there are 1.7 million health-care-associated infections every year; 22% are infections of surgical wounds. Others are urinary tract infections, and infections of the lungs, blood, and other parts of the body.

One of the most serious hospital infections you can pick up is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). This is an antibiotic resistant type of staph infection.

One study done in 2007 by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology suggested that almost one out of every 20 hospital patients is either infected with MRSA or carries it.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections, and the mortality rate is estimated by the CDC to be as high as 33%. It’s a common risk after surgery because lying on the back leads to natural shallow breathing, which is also less taxing or painful.

There’s also a risk of a partial collapse of the lung tissue – called atelectasis – which further weakens lung function. This facilitates infections that cause pneumonia to gain a foothold in your body.

DVT

Deep Vein Thrombosis is another significant risk.

This happens when a blood clot develops deep in the veins of the leg, breaks free and travels through the bloodstream. It can then get lodged in the arteries of the lungs, cutting off the blood’s supply of oxygen.

When this pulmonary embolism happens, its results can often be fatal. Surgery significantly increases the risks of DVT, especially when immobile while recovering in bed as your circulation slows down.

This makes blood more likely to pool and clot in your legs. The blood vessels in the legs can also become very “relaxed” during the anesthesia used for surgery and the blood can slow down enough to form a clot, especially if the vessel has had prior damage.

The trauma of surgery itself also increases the blood’s clotting tendency.

Bleeding after Surgery

Excessive bleeding after surgery can happen, especially when the blood is too thin. Common medicines, like the painkillers aspirin and ibuprofen, can thin the blood.

Other HAI’s

Infections can also be caused by the devices and tools used in medical procedures, such as catheters or ventilators. These can lead to bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.

Infections can also occur at surgery sites, known as surgery site infections.

Anesthesia Complication

People can also have allergic reactions to certain anesthetics, causing anesthesia complications.

Tips to Reduce Risk

The best way to reduce risk would be to pay attention and ask questions. Don’t shy away from finding out more about what’s being done and why – remember that it’s your health and your life.

-Be an active and involved patient, and don’t be afraid to speak up.

-Ask questions about being given antibiotics. Find out if you will be given them before any surgical procedure (as that is the normal practice) – if yes, find out which kind, if not, find out why.

-Find out how the hair will be removed at the surgical site before surgery. If it needs to be removed, it should be done with electric clippers rather than a razor, as razors can result in tiny cuts that can become infected. It should be done immediately before surgery and not the night before an operation, as the latter has been associated with higher rates of skin infections.

-Ask doctors and nurses to wash their hands before touching you.

-If family members are sick, ask that they stay away, even with a mild cold.

-Be aware of the signs of infection – how it feels and what it looks like so that action can be taken immediately if it does happen. Also, be aware of when you can visit other facilities for an illness besides the hospital.

For Sleep Studies, Turn to Sleep Rite

If you’re only looking to undergo a sleep study, there is no need to put yourself at risk in a hospital.

Instead of a cold, harsh hospital room, sleep studies are conducted in a comfortable, relaxed and well-appointed environment that’s like checking into a hotel for the night. You can sleep easy knowing that our facilities are far more sanitary than at any hospital.

Hospital environments are often full of unpredictable factors that may put you at unnecessary risk, especially if all you need is a non-invasive sleep study. Choosing Sleep Rite is not only the more sanitary option, it is also more comfortable, safer and less expensive. Contact us today for your sleep study needs.

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