The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in health care settings has made hospital stays a considerable source of stress for already-anxious patients. While blame for transmission of the superbugs has usually been aimed at employees, it turns out another co-conspirator may be at fault: the patients themselves.
According to a new report in JAMA Internal Medicine, just over 24 percent of the hospitalized adults studied who came out of an inpatient setting in Detroit and transferred to a post-care facility had antibiotic-resistant viruses or bacteria on their hands. While the germs aren’t guaranteed to make them sick, it does increase the risk of further illness or potentially passing them on to someone else.
So what can patients do? The paper’s authors are advocating for a more aggressive hand-washing campaign in hospitals, with signs and other reminders; they also recommend facilities make it easier for bed-bound patients to wash up. If you find yourself admitted, you should also try to keep cleaning wipes on hand to sanitize tables, phones, and remotes.