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Simple hygiene can protect you during a hospital stay

Did you know that one simple change could prevent the deaths of nearly 100,000 people and the suffering of millions more? That change does not require advanced technology, degrees of higher learning or complex equipment. In fact, only two things are necessary: soap and water. That's right, hand washing can prevent the spread of infections that result in the illness and death of millions of people.

The shocking truth is that most of those infections occur in hospitals, places where you go with the hope of recovering. The germs that spread infection travel on the hands of doctors who neglect to wash or sanitize.

Hand washing protocol

A recent evaluation of hospital hygiene revealed that only 32% of hospital doctors wash their hands according to recommended protocol from the World Health Organization. Those guidelines include taking half a minute or less to cover all surfaces of your hands with soap, rubbing your hands together -- including palms, between your fingers and the backs of your hands -- and rinsing with water. In lieu of soap and water, an alcohol-based hand cleaner is as effective. Doctors should wash in this manner at these and other times:

  • When their hands have contacted or may have contacted any bodily fluids, membranes or wounds
  • After treating one contaminated part of your body and before moving to another injury or wound
  • Before and after they wear gloves
  • Before and after examining your wounds or bandages
  • After touching any surface in the room, including doorknobs or bed railings
  • Before performing any invasive procedure, even as simple as drawing your blood or inserting a catheter
  • Before touching any medication you will receive
  • Before and after touching you or any other patient.

Doctors who admit to not washing at these and other times say that they are too busy, there is not a sink nearby or they just don't think about it. Some confess that they feel their field of practice does not have a high risk of infection. Nevertheless, the lowest rate of compliance for hand hygiene is in intensive care units. Only about 36% of doctors wash their hands in an area of the hospital where you may already be in delicate health.

If you contract a serious infection during a New Jersey hospital stay, you are at risk of life-threatening complications that may include systematic organ failure or the loss of limbs. While it may be a challenge to identify the source of the infection, you will have an aggressive advocate in a skilled and experienced attorney.

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