Some people get more than they bargained for when they enter the hospital. They just might get a nosocomial infection. A nosocomial infection is just a medical way of saying hospital acquired infection.
This means that someone develops an infection in the hospital as a result of their stay; its secondary to what a person went in to get treated for. For an infection to earn the nosocomial tag, the symptoms have to appear within the first 48 hours of admission or even up to 30 days after hospital discharge.
Thanks to antibiotic resistance and slipping hygienic practices, these hospital acquired infections are on the rise. Some other reasons why includes exposure to a large population of people with weakened immune systems, lack of hand washing when medical staff moves from patient to patient, and even the rise in outpatient procedures and treatment thanks to insurance companies trying to save a few bucks.
Hand washing with soap and water is essential and is the primary way of preventing the spread of a secondary infection during your hospital stay. Always call attention to hand washing or even alcohol-based hand sanitizers to medical personnel if they do not immediately do it when coming into your room.
How these Secondary Infections are Transmitted
Direct contact is one of the primary ways that nosocomial infections are transmitted. This requires body to body contact. With indirect contact, you only have to touch a contaminated object in order to contract a germ. This could include the use of contaminated wound dressings, IV needles or even gloves.
Germs also can be transmitted via airborne means. A cough or sneeze could distribute infected droplets on a person or even on a variety of surfaces. Germs in these droplets can live indefinitely. The air conditioning system typically is blamed for spreading an infection throughout hospitals. When a hospital knows they are up against an airborne disease, they typically take proper precautions such as a negative pressure room and special ventilation to prevent germs from escaping a room.
Of course, drink and food items have been known to transport infection as well. An infected cafeteria worker could have handled your food or perhaps the food was not prepared correctly. Also, the surgical instruments, IVs, feeding tubes and other medical equipment could be the link to infection.
The Best Recourse for Preventing Nosocomial Infections
As mentioned before, hand washing is the key to preventing many nosocomial infections in the hospital. Being diligent about your own safety is important. In addition, the hospital should have safety measures in place to prevent the spread of infection. After all, you are in the hospital because you are sick. That means your immune system and that of others is lower than normal, meaning your body cannot fight back against infection adequately.
By knowing what to look for, you can prevent your own nosocomial infection. Always ask medical staff to wash their hands before they approach you. Ask them to don a new set of gloves and make sure that the equipment used has been opened from a sterile package or that has been properly sterilized. And if you feel in the least bit funny, tell your doctor. You dont want to leave that hospital with more than you entered with.