Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

MRSA and Other Hospital-Acquired Infections: Reducing Your Risks

Hospitals are hotbeds of viruses and bacteria, and infection is a common complication after surgery.

Here are tips for reducing your risk of contracting a hospital-acquired infection, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus):

Recommended Related to Lung Disease/Respiratory Problems

Coronavirus

A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous. Some types of them are serious, though. More than 100 people have died from Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. In April 2014, the first American was hospitalized for MERS in Indiana. He had just returned from Saudi Arabia. People...

Read the Coronavirus article > >

  • Before surgery, ask if you will need antibiotics. Usually, antibiotics are given shortly before surgery (and stopped within 24 hours) to reduce the risk of wound infections. But don't just assume you're getting antibiotics: ask if you are. If you aren't, ask why.
  • Before surgery, ask how hair will be removed at the surgical site. If hair needs to be removed, it should be done with electric hair clippers rather than a razor. A razor can result in tiny cuts that can become infected. And the CDC recommends that if hair is removed it should be done immediately before surgery. Shaving should not be the night before an operation, because that is associated with higher rates of surgical skin infections.
  • Ask everyone -- including doctors and nurses -- to wash their hands. This is a key way to prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections. Don't let anyone touch you who has not washed his or her hands in your presence. "It's your health," says Peter B. Angood, MD, co-director, International Center for Patient Safety, "so you need to make sure that health care providers are washing their hands and protecting you." Although you might feel awkward about asking a doctor or nurse to wash, you need to speak up. Besides, most hospitals now have policies that staff should be washing their hands in front of the patient.
  • Tell family members to stay away if they're sick. It can be hard to keep some dedicated well-wishers away. But remind loved ones that if they are sick, even with a mild cold, they must stay away until you've fully recovered.
  • Know the signs of infection. Before you're discharged, make sure you understand what to watch for. How will you know if your incision is getting infected? What will it look like? How will it feel? If you don't know these things, you might assume that dangerous signs of a hospital-acquired infection are just normal postoperative pain.
    "There are so many stories of people just toughing it out when they should have gotten help," says Carolyn Clancy, MD, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in Rockville, Md.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on February 18, 2014

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

sore foot
3 warning signs.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
checking blood sugar
Symptoms and treatment.
man behind computer screen
10 possible causes.
Woman with itchy watery eyes
Common triggers.
man screaming
Making sense of symptoms.
human liver
What puts you at risk?
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.