Infection Prevention

Washing Your Hands Properly
The easiest way to prevent the spread of infection is to wash your hands properly and frequently. To wash your hands properly for infection prevention, rub your hands well for at least 15 seconds, making sure to rub every surface, including palms, fingernails, between fingers, and on the back of your hands.

If your hands are not visibly dirty, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as an alternative if soap and water are not available. If you can, check that the hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching, preparing, or eating food.

See Additional Resources for more information on handwashing.
Your Healthcare Provider

Healthcare providers come into contact with more germs than the rest of us because they touch so many people and so many high-touch surfaces. Most healthcare providers practice excellent infection prevention and are not an elevated risk to their patients, but you should never be afraid to ask your healthcare provider if he or she washed their hands or if they should be wearing gloves.

Covering Your Mouth and Nose
Many infections are spread through sneezes and coughs. Use disposable tissues to cover your sneezes and coughs whenever possible. Throw the tissue away and wash your hands immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, cover your mouth and nose with your hands and wash them immediately. If you don’t have a tissue or access to soap and water, cover your sneeze or cough with the crook of your elbow.
When You’re Sick
Always avoid contact with other people and shared surfaces when you’re sick. If you’re going to the doctor or another healthcare provider when you’re sick, call ahead and find out if there’s anything you can do to avoid infecting other people in the waiting room or lobby.
Prevention and Treatments
Getting vaccines and preventative care when you’re well is critical in avoiding potentially serious illnesses like the flu. Check with your doctor about what vaccines you might need. There are vaccines available for many different types of diseases.
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