Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs)


 Healthy Eating

There are things you can do that will help lower your risk for an infection if you are going to stay in a healthcare facility.


Take care of your general health - People in poor health are more likely to get HAIs, and to become sicker than others. Obesity, diabetes, and blocked arteries all interfere with healing. Smoking  interferes with healing, and also dameages the airways, making lung infections more likely. Quit smoking if you know you will be staying in a healthcare facility for a period of time.


Tell your doctor of any current or recent illnesses - a cold or the flu can lead to a chest infection, so let your doctor or the hospital staff know if you are not feeling well.


Keep track of your medications - let your doctor or nurses know all the medications you are currently taking, especially if any are antibiotics or steroids.


Get vaccinated to avoid disease and fight the spread of infection - make sure that your vaccinations are up-to-date (children and adults). Check with your doctor about shots you may need.


Vaccinations are available to prevent these diseases:

  • Chicken Pox
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu (also known as influenza)
  • German measles (also known as Rubella)
  • Hepatitis
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Measles
  • Meningitis
  • Mumps
  • Pneumonia (Streptococcus pneumoniae)
  • Shingles
  • Tetanus
  • Whopping cough (also known as Pertussis)

During your stay in the healthcare facility, these steps can help reduce your chance of getting an infection while there: 


Wash Your Hands

Make sure you wash your hands properly, especially after using the toilet. Ask everyone, including doctors and nurses, to wash their hands. Watch teh doctors, nurses, and other staff as they enter your room. If they do not wash their hands, ask them to do so prior to taking care of you. Your visitors should also wash their hands when they arrive.


Tell Family Members to Stay Away if They Are Sick

It can be hard to keep some well-wishers and loved ones away. Remind them that if they are sick, even with a mild cold, they must stay away until you’ve fully recovered. Even if they are just not feeling right, or are very tired when normally they are not. This could mean they are about to have symptoms of an illness, and they should not visit.


Anyone Coughing, Should Wear a Mask

Anyone who is coughing should wear a mask or be more than 6 feet away from you to reduce the likelihood of transmitting viruses by air.  


Participate in Your Care

  • Let your nurse know if your gowns or linens are soiled. 
  • If you have an intravenous catheter, it is important to keep the skin around the catheter clean and dry. Tell the nurse promptly if the dressing is loose or wet. 
  • The same goes for a dressing on a wound. Let your nurse know if it becomes loose or wet. 
  • If you have a urinary catheter or wound drainage tube, let your nurse know promptly if it becomes loose or dislodged.
  • Follow all medical instructions carefully and completely, including how to do your deep breathing exercises, how to care for your wounds, what activities to avoid, and how long to use antibiotics.
  • Practice good hygiene, and request it of your medical staff and visitors.
  • Ask staff to clean surfaces in your room and disinfect medical equipment if you do not see them doing it.
  • Surfaces in your room that are frequently touched such as bedrails, bedside table, doorknobs, toilet, sinks, and other surfaces and medical equipment, should be disinfected daily. If you do not see these surfaces being cleaned, ask that it be done. Some cleaning may take place when you are not in the room, and it is always OK to ask.

Know the Signs of an Infection

Before you go home, make sure you understand what signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Unexpected pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Pus
  • Drainage
  • Increased redness or swelling around a cut or wound.

Speak Up!

Pay attention to what is going on around you. If you have questions or if something doesn’t seem right, ask your doctor or healthcare staff about it.


When you leave the hospital, these steps can improve your health:


Follow Your Doctors Orders

Ask for your "treatment plan" before you leave the hospital. Follow all medical instructions carefully and completely, including how to take care of your wounds, what activities to avoid, and how long to use antibiotics and other medications prescribed for you.

Report Signs and Symptoms of Infection

Pay attention to symptoms that may happen because of infection, including unexpected pain, chills, fever, pus, drainage, or increased redness or swelling around a cut or wound. Contact your doctor immediately if any of these occur.
To contact the Healthcare Associated Infections Program, please call 860-509-7995.