What hospitals do to protect against infectious diseases

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Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 5:36 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- From Ebola, to flesh eating bacteria, chikungunya virus, to seasonal influenza: Before you enter a hospital here's what you need to know about safety measures in place to protect you from infections like these.

How do you protect yourself from a deadly virus, such as Ebola?

“People who are going into those areas are making sure that they are wearing protective gear—it’s called personal protective equipment,” explained Vilma Vega, a doctor at Infectious Disease Associates.

These include things like masks and gowns and special goggles. “Face shields and even sometimes things to cover their entire legs and shoes that are protective against this sort of virus.”

The same protection is in place at Suncoast hospitals.

“Ebola is a direct contact with bodily fluids, so if you had a patient with an illness such as that, you would have them in a room in isolation.”

However, other viruses are more prevalent here. “MRSA is a very big concern in the emergency room and in the hospital.”

It's actually a big concern in the general public now, says Thomas Trinchetto, Chief Medical Officer of Doctors Hospital of Sarasota.

But many precautions staff takes actually protect both patients and staff. “Strict hand washing, gloves on whenever you touch the patient, when you're examining a wound.”

Old dressings are sanitarily disposed of rather than put in general garbage. “Anything that has dressings on it, blood, body fluids things like that.”

And if you're having a procedure, “Any instruments that a surgeon might use would go through a rigorous sterilization procedure, post procedure.”

But you may be surprised at what tops the list of disease risk at hospitals and clinics.

“In a hospital, the most common are probably things like viruses, where other people who are visiting them can carry it in.”

During influenza season this is probably one of the biggest concerns.

“It isn't really what you catch in a hospital, rather from the outside, visitors that may bring this in.”

Hospitals take great precautions and use guidelines—they make sure patients are screened and not carrying certain bacteria that can be harmful to themselves or others.

Indeed, you're more likely to have the staff exposed to an illness than the patient exposed to an illness from the staff.

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