Are Outpatient Medical Facilities Safe?

Preventing an infection can be as simple as washing your hands.  Medical personnel know this and they also know that serious infections can spread in medical facilities.  Yet, a recent study found that many outpatient surgical centers are having significant problems controlling infection.

According to the study, many same day surgical centers report that staff members do not regularly wash their hands, that staff members do not wear gloves when treating patients and that staff members reuse medical devices that are meant for only one patient.

How Bad is the Problem?

According, to the study that appeared in the June 9, 2010 Journal of the American Medical Association lax infection prevention practices could be a problem at many of the approximately 5,000 outpatient facilities in the U.S.  Of the facilities studied, 67 percent had at least one violation and 57 percent were cited for deficiencies.    Of greater concern is the fact that these facilities knew that they were being observed as part of the study and still failed to comply with appropriate infection prevention procedures.  It makes you wonder what happens when they are not being watched.

If you seek treatment at an outpatient facility, insist that everyone who touches you washes his or her hands and wears gloves. Also, ask questions about how the equipment used in your procedure was clean.  These questions may just save your life.

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