Nova Scotia Health strives to provide an environment dedicated to your well-being. We are committed to nurturing not just physical health, but also tranquility of the mind and spirit.
Hand Washing and Infection Prevention
Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of infection and disease. There are two acceptable ways to keep your hands clean:
- Use an alcohol based hand sanitizer (These can be found throughout the hospitals)
- Wash your hands with soap and running water
Please read our hand hygiene patient education resource to learn more.
How to Prevent an Infection While in Hospital
Despite the best efforts of health care providers, patients can get infections while seeking health care. (See public reports here) There are some things patients can do to help reduce the chance of getting an infection.
Before you are admitted:
- Ask your doctor about any vaccines you may need to prevent respiratory illness including influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.
- Follow any recommendations from your healthcare providers regarding weight loss, diabetes management or smoking cessation before hospitalization. This can help to prevent the complication of an infection following surgery.
Once you have been admitted:
- Hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs. All staff should clean hands before caring for you. If you have not seen a staff member clean their hands, feel free to ask if they have done so.
- Cover your cough with fresh tissue. Try to keep your hands away from your face because germs can enter through the nose, eyes and mouth.
- Let your nurse know if your gown or linens are soiled or if you require tissues or any other hygienic supplies.
- Try to keep the area around your bed clutter-free. This helps the housekeeping staff to keep the area clean.
- Some patients are placed on “special precautions” while in hospital. This may include wearing combinations of gloves, gowns and masks by staff, visitors and patients. If you have questions while in hospital regarding these special precautions ask your nurse or a member of the Infection Prevention and Control Department who will be happy to explain this to you.
- If any of your dressings are loose, or appear to have increased drainage, tell your nurse who will assess for any signs of infection.
- Intravenous (IV) and drains can be an entry point for infections, if your dressing is loose or the area appears red or has increased tenderness, tell your nurse who will assess for any signs of infection.
- Follow your health care providers’ instructions regarding any breathing exercises and directions for getting out of bed. This movement can help prevent a lung infection (pneumonia) after surgery.
Once you go home:
- Be alert to any symptoms that might indicate you have an infection: increased or unexpected pain, chills or fever, increased drainage, pus, or swelling of a surgical wound.
- Complete the full course of any antibiotic prescriptions as instructed by your doctor.
- Follow all discharge instructions provided by your healthcare providers.
- Make sure you attend any follow-up appointments with the members of the healthcare team caring for you.
Many patients have reduced mobility, sight and hearing. There is an increased risk of falls in the hospital. Family and friends can help reduce the risk of falls. Please remove any obstacles on the way to the bathroom or hallway and make sure the patient’s call bell is within reach.
- Move slowly. The hours spent in bed (or sitting in a chair) can affect your balance.
- Sit for a short time on the edge of your bed until you feel steady before standing or walking.
- Make sure that your call bell is always within reach. If it is not, please ask a staff member or loved one to move it for you.
- Be careful not to over-reach for things. If you can’t reach something, call for help.
- If you have trouble getting in and out of bed, talk to your health care team about how to make this easier.
Help with mobility
- Wait for staff to come and help you before moving if they have told you that you must have help.
- Always use a mobility device such as a cane or walker if your health care team has told you to use one.
- Wear shoes on all floor surfaces.
- Tell your health care team right away when you need to go to the bathroom.
- Tell your health care team about any medication that makes you feel dizzy, drowsy or confused.
Fall risk reduction
- Wait until you are steady on your feet before you start to walk.
- Wear non-slip, footwear that fits well.
- Wear your glasses and hearing aid(s) if you need them.
- Ask your health care team about any factors that could increase your risk of falling.
- Talk about your risk of falling with your family and support people.
Watch our falls prevention videos HERE
For the protection of your personal property we recommend you bring $25 or less for any small items you may need during your visit. Please leave any valuables at home.
If you must bring something valuable, please remember that Nova Scotia Health Authority is not responsible for any items that go missing from your room or other areas of the hospital.
It is important that your health care providers know about your allergies.
If you wear a MedicAlert or allergy bracelet, make sure your health care providers know about it. Remember to tell the doctors and nurses if you have allergies or have ever had a bad reaction to an anesthetic (medication used to put you to sleep during surgery) or any other drug.
If you have any known drug allergies, you will have to wear a bracelet while in hospital to let staff know. Expect your health care team to check this information often. They may ask you questions about your allergies many times; this is to keep you safe.
Public Reporting on Patient Safety
You can find our patient safety performance reports here.