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Three easy steps improve infection control

As our nation faces an extreme shortage of the flu vaccine, remaining free from infection is important to healthcare consumers. Consequently, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), in collaboration with the American Hospital Association, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, urges everyone to take specific, appropriate steps to reduce the likelihood of contracting influenza and other infections. The organizations have worked in tandem to launch a national campaign to help Americans fight the spread of infection in healthcare settings and in the community. The agencies seek to contain contagious diseases such as the common cold, strep throat, and influenza.


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Instruct your staff to remind patients and families to take the following three steps to control infections:


[white diamond suit] Clean your hands. Rub hands vigorously with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds after using the bathroom, taking out the trash, changing a diaper, or before handling food. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are acceptable alternatives. Don't hesitate to ask physicians, nurses, dentists, or other caregivers whether they've cleaned their hands before rendering care. Keep hands clean when caring for a sick friend or family member at home.


[white diamond suit] Cover your mouth and nose. To stop the spread of infectious diseases through sneezes and coughs, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, your hands, or the crook of your elbow. Remember to wash your hands afterward.


[white diamond suit] Avoid close contact. A fever or symptoms of a contagious illness are clear signs to you or your child to stay at home and away from other people so you don't spread the illness.



Source: JCAHO: "New national campaign offers Americans three easy steps to prevent infections," press release. Available online: