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Infection Protection and Patients Rights

The Indiana Universal Precautions Rule requires healthcare facilities to practice universal precautions when providing services where there is a possibility of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). Universal Precautions means a practice of infection control in which all human blood and OPIM are considered to be infectious for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and other blood-borne pathogens.

Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center comply with infection control practices required by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). In addition, this facility practices Standard Precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Consequently, this facility incorporates stricter infection control practices than required by Indiana law.

The following infection control practices are required by Indiana law to be used when contact with blood or OPIM is anticipated:

  • Appropriate use of protective barriers, including gloves for hand contact. Masks, gowns, laboratory coats and protective eyewear or face shields are used for procedures having the potential of creating a splatter of blood or OPIM.
  • Gloves, when required, are changed and hands are washed after each patient.
  • Heat stable, non-disposable instruments that are contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials and require sterilization are heat sterilized after treatment of each patient.
  • Precautions are taken to prevent injuries caused by needles, syringes and other contaminated sharp objects. Safer medical devices are used and sharp items are discarded in puncture-resistant containers.
  • Contaminated surfaces and equipment that does not require sterilization are cleaned and disinfected.
  • Infectious waste (regulated waste) is placed in containers labeled with the biohazard symbol, impervious to moisture and of sufficient strength to prevent expulsion.
  • Containers of infectious waste (regulated waste) are stored in a secure area prior to treatment and final disposal.
  • Patient care staff receives training on infection control principles and practices. The infection control procedures listed above, and others that are not readily observable, protect you from transmission of HIV, HBV, HCV and other blood-borne pathogens. Indiana law requires that healthcare facilities be committed to appropriate use of Universal Precautions. Any deviation from this commitment should be brought to the attention of the infection control coordinator at this facility. 

If you are not satisfied with the explanation of Universal Precautions provided by this facility, you may file an official complaint with the Indiana State Department of Health by writing to the following address:
Indiana State Department of Health
c/o Universal Precautions Coordinator
2 N. Meridian St., 5K
Indianapolis, IN 46204-3003
317-234-2804

THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT INFECTION

Avoiding contagious diseases like the common cold, strep throat and influenza is important to everyone. Here are three easy things you can do to fight the spread of infection:

1. Clean your hands.
Use soap and warm water. Rub your hands vigorously for at least 15 seconds. If your hands do not look dirty, clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Rub the sanitizer all over your hands, especially under your nails and between your fingers, until your hands feel dry.
Clean your hands before touching or eating food. Clean them after you use the bathroom, take out the trash, change a diaper, handle money or play with a pet.
Doctors, nurses, dentists and other healthcare providers come into contact with lots of bacteria and viruses. For your safety in preventing the spread of infections, staff will be using the hand washing gel located in every patient room to clean their hands before treating or examining you.

2. Cover your mouth and nose.
Many diseases are spread through sneezes and coughs. When you sneeze or cough, the germs can travel three feet or more! Controlling a cough if you are sick can help prevent the spread of infection to others. Use a tissue! Keep tissues handy at home, at work and in your pocket. Be sure to throw away used tissues and then clean your hands. If you don't have a tissue, cover your mouth and wash your hands right away.

3. Avoid close contact.
If you are sick with a fever or other symptoms of a contagious illness, stay away from other people and stay home. Call work or school and tell them you are sick.
When you go for medical treatment, call ahead and ask if there's anything you can do to avoid infecting people in the waiting room.