02.How to protect yourself
- Insist on hand washing. Anyone who touches you, including your visitors, should wash their hands with soap and water or use a hospital grade alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Don’t hesitate to say, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t see you wash your hands. Would you mind doing it again?”
- Don’t let visitors sit on your bed.
- If friends or relatives are sick, ask them not to visit.
- Practice good hygiene yourself If possible have a shower before surgery, and wash your hands frequently.
- Every day ask if catheters, ventilators, or other tubes can be removed. The risk of infection increases significantly the longer they’re left in place.
- Don’t manipulate or fiddle with lines and catheters If you notice anything such as pain, swelling, leakage or irritation notify your nurse or doctor immediately.
There’s no reason to panic – the total number of preventable infections is still small. Nevertheless, they continue to occur in Australian hospitals. Inform yourself about the procedure you’re undergoing in hospital, and never be afraid to speak up and make health care professionals accountable for their hygiene practices.