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5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Infection at the Hospital
Using CDC data, after adjusting for factors like the overall health of a hospital's patients, its size, and whether it's a teaching hospital, Consumer Reports determined that the following hospitals earned the lowest ratings in preventing MRSA, C. diff, and three other infections.
In alphabetical order:
1. Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, New York
2. Decatur Memorial Hospital and Health Services, Decatur, Illinois
3. Floyd Memorial Hospital and health Services, New Albany, Indiana
4. Fremont-Rideout Health Group, Marysville, California
5. Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers, Evergreen Park, Illinois
6. Mercy St. Anne Hospital, Toledo, Ohio
7. Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank, New Jersey
8. Rockdale Medical Center, Conyers, Georgia
9. St. Petersburg General hospital, Saint Petersburg, Florida
10. The Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, Torrington, Connecticut
11. UF Health Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida
12. Venice Regional Bayfront Health, Venice, Florida
See which hospitals came out on top for preventing infection.
How to Protect Yourself
If you find yourself or a loved one making a trip to the hospital, Consumer Reports suggests a few precautions you can take to lower the risk of infection:
- Test for MRSA.A nasal swab can be used to detect low levels of MRSA, allowing medical staff to take precautions such as having you wash with a special soap before your procedure.
- Wipe down surfaces. What makes C. diff and MRSA so dangerous is their ability to live on surfaces for days. To prevent them from spreading, hospitals need to be meticulously clean. Use bleach wipes on bed rails, doorknobs, and the TV remote.
- Ask the staff to wash their hands.The bacteria can be passed from person to person, so it’s important to not only keep your own hands clean, but to insist that hospital staff wash their hands before treating you.
- Question antibiotics.Make sure that any antibiotics prescribed to you are necessary. Medication kills off healthy bacteria in the body, increasing the risk of infection from dangerous bacteria. Be especially careful if you are prescribed heartburn medications like Nexium (esomeprazole) and Prilosec (omeprazole), which can reduce stomach acid that keeps bugs in check, increasing the risk of C. diff infection.
- Watch for signs of infection.After a stay at the hospital, keep an eye out for signs that you may have contracted a dangerous infection like fever, diarrhea, worsening pain, or an incision site that becomes warm, red, and swollen. Adults over the age of 65, infants, people on antibiotics, and anyone with a compromised immune system are particular at risk for infection.
Photo credit: Paul Gunning/Corbis
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