Doctors and nurses aren't the only ones that need to worry about carrying disease-causing bacteria on their hands. As a patient, you should wash your hands too.
Photo by Sheila Sund.
Why worry about hospital germs? Think about it: people with infections or communicable diseases show up at heath care facilities all the time. Everybody tries to keep things clean, including health care staff washing their hands many times a day, and cleaning staff sterilizing everything in sight. But bacteria are sneaky little guys, and every now and then a few survive on floors, door handles, or other places another person might pick them up.
A lot of these germs have gotten the chance to become resistant to antibiotics, which makes them dangerously hard to get rid of if they do manage to infect you. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine confirmed that this isn't just speculation -- patients really do bring drug-resistant bacteria home on their hands after staying in a hospital.
Fortunately, there's an easy solution. Washing your hands with ordinary soap and water reduces the chance of passing on germs. Hospitals and other health care facilities are full of hand washing sinks and hand sanitizer dispensers (sanitizer is ok in a pinch but doesn't replace hand washing) so do yourself and your family at home a favour. Wash your hands on your way out.