Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

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

    Understanding Encephalitis -- The Basics

    Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain tissue, is rare, affecting about one in 200,000 people each year in the U.S. When it strikes, it can be very serious, causing personality changes, seizures, weakness, and other symptoms depending on the part of the brain affected. Children, the elderly, and those with a weak immune system are most vulnerable. The disease is usually caused by one of several viral infections, so it's sometimes referred to as viral encephalitis. Many people who have...

    Read the Understanding Encephalitis -- The Basics 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
    Next Article:

    Which hospital risk concerns you most?