Hospitals are not healthy places.

Not just because the patients in them are not healthy, or they wouldn’t be there — but because patients there are subject to contracting NEW infections. These are called nosocomial.

Nursing Assistants, nurses and even doctors make patients even sicker because they don’t thoroughly wash their hands between attending to patients, and thus spread germs.

hospitalscanmakeyousick  There’s  an estimated two and a half million nosocomial infections in the United States in a year — and no doubt many more in hospitals around the world. It’s estimated they kill 30 thousand people in the U.S. and contribute to another 70 thousand deaths. (That is, they make people who are already sick from something else — which is why they’re in the hospital to begin with — even sicker.)

There are two ways to defend yourself. First, don’t go into a hospital unless you really need to, and don’t stay any longer than absolutely necessary. The modern trend to discharge patients as soon as possible, while often complained about, is actually to your benefit in preventing nocosomial infections.

Secondly, when an assistant, nurse or even a doctor is going to work on you, gently ask them if they’ve washed their hands since they saw the patient previous to you. Be polite but firm. They know they’re supposed to do so, but often skip this because they’re pressured to get a lot done within a small amount of time. You can sympathize with the stress they’re under, but you still want to avoid any unnecessary infections.

Furthermore, make sure your visitors or your family are not contributing to the problem. Proper handwashing takes time, here’s some helpful tips on how to wash your hands so that you can avoid spreading infections or germs.

Modern medicine has improved a lot since Dr. Semmelweiss, but not enough.

Ignaz Semmelweiss was a Hungarian practicing in Vienna in the 1840s. At that time, hospitals were not the peak of medical practice. They were places poor people went to because they could not afford to pay a doctor to treat them in their homes, as middle and upper class people could. Pregnant women who could afford it, had their children had home and usually survived.

Poor women went to hospital maternity wards, and a high percentage of them died of puerperal, or childbed fever.

Dr. Semmelweiss concerned himself with the cause of this. He noticed that the medical students who treated women in hospital maternity wards went there from autopsy rooms without washing their hands. A colleague of his had died after cutting himself during an autopsy. Dr. Semmelweiss put these two facts together, and decided to try an experiment.

He began requiring all the students working in his ward to wash their hands with chlorinated lime before assisting at deliveries. There was an immediate and dramatic reduction in deaths from childbed fever in the women on his ward.

Rather than hailing him as a hero, the hospital authorities were outraged and ordered that the handwashing stop.

Semmelweis left Vienna and found another position, and again ordered everyone at childbirths to wash their hands thoroughly, and again he significantly reduced the rate of childbed fever. He didn’t lose that job, but other doctors refused to follow his example.

In the last years of Semmelweiss’ life, Louis Pasteur in France began the work that would demonstrate to the world why handwashing saved the lives of women in childbirth, but it was many years before the medical establishment saw the value in this.

Even in today’s modern era, hospital acquired infections still make people sick and can even be deadly.  So be diligent about insisting upon proper handwashing for both medical staff entering your room and any visitors. Prevention is truly easier than the cure for the problems of nosocomial infections.