Infection Control in Your Life
Courtesy Heritage Park Surgical Hospital, Texoma LIVING WELL Magazine
One of the fears experienced by people undergoing surgery is having some sort of infection after the surgery like coming down with some sort of “bug” or the surgical site getting infected. Being informed and keeping clean can prevent either of these from happening.
Those that undergo surgery in the fall and winter months are particularly fearful of catching a cold or the flu. Several hospitals make the flu shot mandatory for anyone in a patient care area. This means that as a patient, everyone you would come into contact with has had the flu shot and is taking active measures against the disease. There are several things you can do all the time to prevent a cold or the flu.
Clean hands can help prevent the spread of infection so it is important to practice good hand hygiene.
Wash your hands properly:
- Use cool running water and liquid soap,
- Lather your hands and wrists and clean under fingernails,
- Scrub your hands for at least 15 seconds (children can sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to time themselves),
- Rinse your hands well with hands pointing down,
- Dry your hands thoroughly with a clean towel, and
- Use a moisturizer for dry skin.
If soap and water are not available, use an instant hand sanitizer:
- Put a thumbnail size amount of sanitizer in the palm of your hand,
- Rub hands together briskly until dry, and
- No rinsing or towels required.
Remember to sanitize your hands:
- Before and after touching your wounds or incisions,
- Before and after changing your bandages,
- Before and after using the toilet,
- After touching pets, money or uncooked food,
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, or
- After touching your nose, eyes or mouth
Since germs on our clothes die, the best way to cover a sneeze or cough is to do it in your sleeve. Just bend your elbow and sneeze or cough into it. Although funny sounding, this is the best method to control the spread of germs.
Ask your doctor if you should receive the flu or pneumonia vaccine. They are available through your doctor and also several retail pharmacies in our community without an appointment and are covered by a lot of insurance plans.
Keeping your surgical site free from infection is a very important part of your recovery process.
Staph is the common word used for Staphylococcusaureus, a bacterium found on the skin or in the nose. Most people carry “staph” on their skin without signs or symptoms of infection, but if it gets into cuts or abrasions of the skin, it may cause skin or soft tissue infections. Staph occasionally causes more serious infections that require hospitalization. MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcusaureus) is a type of staph that is resistant to many antibiotics. Anyone can get this infection. MRSA can be spread through:
- Skin-to-skin contact with someone who had MRSA,
- Contact with the hands of someone who did not use proper hand hygiene after touching another person with MRSA, or
- Contact with surfaces or items that have MRSA on them.
Germs can be present and grow in your body without causing symptoms. This is known as colonization. Infection occurs when germs are present and cause symptoms. Symptoms vary by the location of the infection. MRSA can cause colonization or infection and in either case it can be spread to others. When you are admitted, you will be screened for MRSA using a nasal swab. If you have a MRSA infection, your health care provider will treat you with an antibiotic that is effective against your infection.
These basic hygiene tips––in addition to the previous hand hygiene tips––will help you to prevent MRSA or other infections from spreading to others.
- Good hand hygiene (see above).
- Change your sheets and towels often.
- Shower or bathe daily.
- Change your clothes daily.
- Do not share personal care items, such as towels, razors, or toothbrushes.
- Take care of your skin. Clean cuts or scrapes with soap and water, and then cover with a bandage. Seek medical care if you notice any redness, swelling, pain or pus.
- Keep your fingernails short to prevent germs from growing under them.
- Shower before and after using a public hot tub, sauna, pool or gym. Disinfect gym equipment after use. Avoid these locations if you have an open wound.
Heritage Park Surgical Hospital is located at 3601 N. Calais Street, Sherman, TX 75090. To learn more about their services visit HeritageParkSurgicalHospital.com.