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Give Your Hospital a Hand in Preventing Infection


Imagine checking into the hospital with a simple case of tonsillitis, and checking out with a life-threatening infection. It could happen. In fact, healthcare-associated infections are among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year. These dangerous infections can strike in your bloodstream, surgical wounds, urinary tract, and lungs.

If you are hospitalized, there's one simple step you and your visitors can take to help prevent these kinds of infections: cleanse your hands, and make sure that everyone who touches you cleanses their hands too.

What is the right way to wash one’s hands? 
  Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  Rinse your hands well under running water.
  Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of  germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.  Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

How should you use hand sanitizer?
  Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
  Rub your hands together.
  Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

For more information on handwashing, please visit the CDC's Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO or email cdcinfo@cdc.gov for answers to specific questions.

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