Standard Precautions

In a hospital environment, extra precautions are advised to contain and/or prevent the spread of germs and infection(s).

Most of these include simple steps such as washing your hands before and after contact with patients and various areas of the hospital, including bathroom facilities, the cafeteria and visiting areas.

In fact, Swedish has installed special hand sanitizers throughout the hospital, which caregivers are required to use upon the entry and exit of each patient room. (Patients and visitors are encouraged to observe caregivers to ensure that they use the sanitizers upon entering your room-and to speak up if they forget.)

These sanitizers utilize a special disinfectant formula that is designed to kill germs without drying out hands. Visitors are also encouraged to use these sanitizers before interacting with patients to help prevent the spread of germs to patients and others.

In addition, health care providers within the hospital may also wear gloves or other protective gear such as gowns, protective eyewear or masks when doing certain medical procedures to protect patients and themselves. These precautions may be taken whether or not a known infection risk exists.

MRSA Risk Reduction Program

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. In fact, approximately 25-30 percent of the population has staph in their noses. MRSA are a specific type of staph that are resistant to antibiotics-and approximately 1 percent of the population has MRSA.

Swedish is participating in a national initiative to reduce the risk of transmitting MRSA. As part of this initiative, Swedish tests certain high-risk patients for the MRSA bacteria upon arrival. If it is detected, patients will be placed into isolation and special care will be taken (including the use of gloves and gowns by healthcare providers) to prevent the spread of the MRSA bacteria to others.

Because the primary way to transmit MRSA is by touch, handwashing is an essential component of the prevention program. The use of soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizers (which are available in every patient room and multiple locations throughout the hospital) is an effective way to prevent the spread of MRSA and other bacteria.