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I found an interesting article from Prevention’s List-Maker’s Get Healthy Guide book. It is so interesting and something many people don’t think about. I want to share it here with you.

An average adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harboring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers, and remote controls. At home, you do all that you can to keep the germs at bay. But what happens when you step out the door to go to dinner, do some grocery shopping, or visit the doctor’s office? Know where germs are most likely to lurk, as you’ll find out here.

Restaurant Menus

Have you ever seen anyone wash off a menu? Probably not. A recent study in the Journal of Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it’s a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus–and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and wash your hands after you place your order.

Lemon Wedges

According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70% of the lemon wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons that they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria. Tell your server that you’d prefer your beverage sans fruit. Why risk it?

 Condiment Dispensers

It’s the rare eatery that regularly bleaches its condiment containers. And the reality is that many people don’t wash their hands before eating, says Kelly Reynolds, PhD. So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fries. Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it. Holding the bottle with a napkin won’t help; napkins are porous, so microorganisms can pass right through, Reynolds says.

Restroom Door Handles

Don’t think you can escape the restroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up and use it to grasp the handle. Yes, other patrons may think you’re a germ-phobe–but you’ll never see them again, and you’re the one who won’t get sick.

Soap Dispensers

About 25 percent of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Soap that harbors bacteria may seem ironic, but that’s exactly what a recent study found. “Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up,” says Charles Gerba, PhD. “And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there’s a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria.” Be sure to scrub hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for 15 to 20 seconds–and if you happen to have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, use that, too.

Grocery Carts

The handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with fecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom. Swab the handle with a disinfectant wipe before grabbing hold (stores are starting to provide them, so look around for a dispenser). And while you’re wheeling around the supermarket, skip the free food samples, which are nothing more than communal hand-to-germ-to-mouth zones.

Airplane bathrooms

When Gerba tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, he found surfaces from faucets to doorknobs to be contaminated with E. coli. It’s not surprising, then, that you’re 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you’re airborne, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research.

Doctor’s office

A doctor’s office is not the place to be if you’re trying to avoid germs. These tips can help limit your exposure.

  • Take your own books and magazines (and kid’s toys, if you have your children or grandchildren with you).
  • Also pack your own tissues and hand sanitizers, which should be at least 60% alcohol content.
  • In the waiting room, leave at least two chairs between you and the other patients to reduce your chances of picking up their bugs. Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 3 feet before falling to the floor.

I’ve always thought I was careful, but this list gives me more ideas to protect myself! I hope it gives you ideas to protect yourself too!

JL

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Today I want to share with you some important information about bloodborne pathogens. This bloodborne pathogens infographic is provided to us courtesy of Compliance and Safety. This is just one of many things a Nursing Home and Hospital Surveyor looks at when surveying a health facility. Of course, the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens is quite high in a health facility. Safety procedures and processes are important to not only protect the staff but also the resdients/patients. You can see how it is higher in certain healthcare areas when compared to others. – JL


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Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a major public health problem world wide. HAI are the most common complication affecting hospitalized patients, with between 5 and 10 percent of inpatients acquiring one or more infections during their hospitalization. It is estimated that in the United States there are 2 million hospital-acquired HAI each year. They account for an estimated 99,000 deaths each year. HAIs add $4.5 to $5.7 billion in healthcare costs. Experts generally believe that at least 20-30% of these infections are preventable. This is increasing more and more every year. Anyone who is a patient in any type of healthcare facility, whether hospital, nursing home, or clinic, is at risk of developing an HAI. You, as a healthcare consumer, need to know some basics in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from ending up with an HAI.

The most common HAI’s are urinary tract infections (32 percent), surgical site infections (22 percent), pneumonias (15 percent), and bloodstream infections (14 percent).

Most states have passed legislation mandating the reporting of HAI data or have similar legislation pending, with varying reporting requirements. This sounds great, except there is, as yet, no consistent way developed to report the data and make it understandable to the public. It is like comparing apples to oranges to grapes to juice to wine to bees to etc… You get the idea.

What should you watch for when you are a patient in a facility?

The number 1 defense is hand washing. All staff should be washing their hands before and after caring for you or touching anything in your environment. Hand washing can prevent potentially fatal infections from spreading from patient to patient, and from patient to healthcare worker and vice-versa. Be proactive – watch what the staff are doing in your room. Ask politely, but insist they wash their hands before they touch you. Even if they say they did it before they came in, I personally would ask then to do it again. You can’t be too safe! If they balk – tough. I’m the patient and I’m the one who is most likely to get an HAI. As a nurse and as a surveyor I have seen way too many bad outcomes from a patient getting an HAI which can be one that is resistant to most antibiotics. People die from HAIs that have gone past the point of treatment.

Most hospitals today will have those alcohol-based gel cleansers, and they are fine for some things. The alcohol-based gel cleansers, though, are not a substitute for good old fashioned hand washing. According to an article published by the CDC in March of 2006, the alcohol content in the sanitizer should be of sufficient strength to be effective. Tests have shown that those with a 60% alcohol content?are more effective. The alcohol-based gels are also not effective in situations such as when there is visible material on the hands, such as dirt, body fluids, etc. Anoher important thing to realize is the alcohol-based gels are not effective in the case of Clostridium Difficile.

Clostridium Difficile is an infection of the intestines. It occurs for several reasons, one of which is the overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics. Alcohol is not effective against the Clostridium Difficile spores, which can live for many months on animate and inanimate objects, and therefore can be passed easily onto others who are in an environment in which the spores are present.

Watch the staff; make sure they wash their hands. Don’t be afraid to ask the physicians and residents and everyone who enters your room to wash their hands. Also, remember, the use of gloves does not replace hand washing.

Ask questions about what you are getting and why. Why and what antibiotics are being received? How often are those dressings supposed to be changed? What process is there to be for changing the dressing. What about that Intravenous line, what is in it? How long is it supposed to be in? How long is a “bag” good for? Watch the staff as they work with any line that goes into your body; are they taking clean, sterile precautions to ensure you don’t get an infection from that line? Is your loved one on?a ventilator (a machine that breaths for them)? How are the staff taking care of it? How often is the tubing changed? Someone on a ventilator should ideally not be in a flat position. It leads to a risk of what is called Ventilator Associated Pneumonia (VAP). Ask questions, and know what is supposed to happen so you can make sure it does happen.

Also remember that a clean environment is important. Watch when your room is being cleaned, how often is it being cleaned? What are they doing to clean the room? Are the housekeepers cleaning every area or just wiping off a few things. Do they use a clean cloth and mop in your room or are they using the same cloth and mop from room to room. HINT: That is not a “good thing”. The cloths and mops should be changed between rooms.

Be proactive and protect yourself and your loved ones. You have a right to be safe!

JL

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