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Reducing infections in rural healthcare facilities

The chairman and founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths is highlighting ways to reduce healthcare-acquired infections in rural hospitals.

Betsy McCaughey says there are several steps rural Americans can take.  

“Clostridium difficile or C. diff is the most common hospital infection killing 29,000 Americans each year. To prevent it, you need to make sure you wipe your hands well before you pick up any food and swallow it,” she says.

Advice she has for people visiting loved ones in the hospital is, “forget bringing flowers or candy. Bring a canister of bleach wipes and a pair of gloves and wipe those surfaces around your loved one’s bed. You could be saving their lives.”

McCaughey says it’s critical that people in rural communities have equal access to this information.

“I want to make sure people who are living in rural areas who don’t have as much interaction perhaps with social workers and healthcare professionals day-by-day know how to protect themselves,” she says. “This is really key.”  

There are some steps for avoiding staph infections.

“There are two kinds of Staph— MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, and a methicillin-susceptible staphylococcus aureus. To avoid either kind of staph there are quite a few things you can do,” she says. “If you’re having surgery you should ask your doctor to test for the staph that might be on your own skin. Over 20 percent of people carry staph on their skin and they’re vulnerable to a staph infection if they have surgery because that bacteria can migrate to the surgical site. Also, bathe with a special soap called chlorhexidine for three days before your surgery. That eliminates the dangerous bacteria on your skin, staph or other types.”

RID also has tips for avoiding infections in nursing and rehabilitation centers.

The nonprofit organization is focused on empowering patients to help reduce their risk of getting a hospital infection. Click here for more information.

Audio: Betsy McCaughey

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