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Step 4: Help Prevent Infections,
Ask Caregivers to Wash Their Hands




Gloves? Hand Sanitizer?
When asked to wash, some medical staff may say “I’m wearing surgical gloves” or “We use hand sanitizer, it’s better.” But neither is good enough. Sanitizer does not get rid of C-Diff spores, for example. And gloves are not sterile, especially if put on unwashed hands.

Getting Sick While Getting Better

Hundreds of thousands of people get sick (and sometimes die) every year from infections they pick up while they are in the hospital or clinic being treated for something else. Healthcare.gov says that on average you’ll have about a 4% chance of getting an HAI while in a medical treatment facility.


There’s even a name for this: “HAI” — Healthcare-Associated (or Hospital-Acquired) Infections.

What can be done?


One of the most basic yet most effective ways to prevent infections is for everyone — doctors, therapists, nurses, friends and family — to wash their hands before touching you. But medical staff are busy and under pressure: sometimes they forget.

If you see a healthcare provider reaching for you without having washed, ask them to do so — politely but firmly. This isn’t easy: no one wants to offend. But there are ways to do it.