A trip to the hospital could kill you! And not because of whatever got you there in the first place! According to ABC News, more than 90,000 Americans die each year from infections they pick up while they’re in the hospital. That’s more deaths than those caused by AIDS, breast cancer, and car accidents combined. And the experts say it’s only getting worse! But if over 100 people were dying every day of the bird flu, we’d be calling it an epidemic. So why isn’t this getting more attention? Infections get spread on the hands and gloves of health-care workers, on their lab coats, ties, and uniforms, and on stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. So here’s how to protect yourself if you have to go to the hospital:

  • Insist on clean hands. The rule is that all doctors, nurses, and orderlies must wash their hands between each patient. If you haven’t seen them do it, don’t be shy about asking them to. And tell your visitors to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer.
  • Make sure you visit an accredited hospital. They’re not all accredited, especially if they’re the only game in town. Ones that are have to pass tests on cleanliness, infection control, and patient rights. You can find out a hospital’s status by going to the joint commission Web site at JointCommission.org. The site will also tell you how a hospital is rated. Try to go to one where nurses want to work. They’ll have the highest morale and the best resources. And look for a hospital with a full-time staff. they perform better.
  • Ask your doctor which hospital his family uses. If he’d go there, you know it’s probably a good choice. Follow these tips and you’re less likely to go home from the hospital in WORSE shape than when you went in.