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I will be going to a Milwaukee hospital for scheduled surgery. What can I do to prevent hospital-acquired infections?

When you check into a Milwaukee hospital, you expect to get the treatment that will make you well. Unfortunately, many people get sicker. About two million hospital patients a year contract hospital-acquired infections; about 99,000 die.

We think of hospitals as being clean and sterile. The truth is that hospitals are full of people. Sick people carry germs; visitors to sick people carry germs; even doctors and nurses carry germs. And those who are sick or recovering from an injury are especially vulnerable to infection. Seriously ill patients in intensive care units are at the greatest risk.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, at least one-third of hospital-acquired illnesses are preventable. These tips from our Milwaukee hospital injury lawyers can help you and your loved ones prevent Wisconsin hospital-acquired infections.

  • Wash your hands often. Bacteria and viruses on the patient’s own body are sources of many hospital-acquired infections. Wash your hands after using the restroom or handling any object that could carry germs.
  • Tell sick visitors to stay home. Visitors can brighten you day, but if Great Aunt Hattie has a cold, ask her to stay home. It may be a minor cold, but those germs put you at risk of infection.
  • Ask visitors wash their hands. When family and friends visit, insist that they wash their hands.
  • Ask your health care providers to wash their hands. Doctors and nurses should wash their hands and put on fresh gloves when they come into your room. If they don’t, ask if their hands are clean. You may feel awkward, but medical care personnel will not be offended; they understand the importance of sterile hands when your health is at risk.
  • Pay attention to your surgical site or wound. Your nurse should check your surgical site several times a day, but an extra pair of eyes can help prevent infection. Let the nurse know immediately if the dressing gets wet, dirty, or if it loosens. Tell your doctor about any fever, chills, unusual pain, or other signs of infection.
  • Keep your catheter site clean and dry. Tell a nurse if the dressing gets loose or wet or if the catheter is dislodged. Insist that the catheter be removed as soon as you are able to move on your own.
  • Provide a full medical history. It is important that your doctor know if you have a have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes that could affect your recovery.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions. Get written instructions for follow-up care before leaving the hospital. Ask questions if there is anything that you don’t understand.

Not all hospital-acquired infections are preventable, but many are. If you suffered a hospital-acquired infection in Wisconsin, please contact our Milwaukee personal injury lawyers. You may have a medical malpractice claim. To learn more, please contact Hupy and Abraham, at 800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham