Tips to prevent infection in the hospital, public places and home

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OLATHE, Kan. -- You may think that getting a cold, flu or something worse is beyond your control. But you can take steps to lower your chances of catching some bad bugs.

Stan Stuckey of Olathe Medical Center is president of the Kansas City Chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The organization's new campaign is called "Infection Prevention and You" at http://www.apic.org/infectionpreventionandyou.

Stuckey says when you're in the hospital, you or your loved ones should speak up to caregivers to help prevent infections.

"So if a nurse walks into your room and you have not seen them clean their hands, it is perfectly okay and it's actually recommended to ask them to clean their hands either with a hand sanitizer or soap and water," said Stuckey.

The infection prevention nurse says you should also ask for help in getting the patient's hands washed.

"As a patient, if you're able to ask for help washing your hands you should do so, and if you're not, the nurse should take some responsibility," said Stuckey.

He also said if you think your room or the bathroom isn't clean, tell the staff.

In workplaces, schools and other public places, be aware of who is coughing and sneezing.

"You would want to keep your distance, try to stay at least six feet away from them. If you can, just remind them to cover your cough," said Stuckey.

He also says computer keyboards are a prime place to pick up germs.

"You can take an antibacterial wipe, you can run it across the keyboard and it won't hurt it as long as it's not dripping fluid into the keyboard. So once a while, you'd want to make sure that keyboard is clean and, of course, your hands are clean when you use it," said Stuckey.

The association suggests you wash your hands when you come home, in addition to washing them before eating and after you've used the restroom. Also avoid sharing items like towels, and regularly clean surfaces that everyone touches such as faucets and door handles.

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