And After You're There
Once in the hospital, taking these steps will help keep bugs at bay and bolster your resistance as well:
Clip, please. If body hair has to be removed, request clippers. A razor can create nicks that are like an open-house invitation to bacteria.
Would you mind? Ask the staff to clean their hands before touching you. If you're worried about being pushy, a family member or friend can make the request. Keeping alcohol-based hand cleaner on the bedside table makes it easier to say apologetically, "Excuse me, but would you mind cleaning your hands with this so I can see you do it? Thanks. It would make me feel better."
Don't trust gloves. If caregivers don gloves without cleaning their hands first, or pull them on and touch the bedrail or privacy curtain, the gloves are contaminated.
Keep germs at bay. Wash your own hands often, avoid putting them to your mouth (an entry point especially for C. difficile), and don't let your food or utensils touch furniture or bedsheets.
Tube or not tube? Avoid a urinary tract catheter if possibleit lets germs in as well as urine out. Sometimes catheters are used less for medical reasons than because a busy staff doesn't have time to walk patients to the bathroom. Often a catheter is left in because it is out of sight beneath the sheets. By the third day, the risk of infection has increased substantially. If you must have a catheter, ask your doctor or nurse frequently: "Do I still need this?"