Pneumonia is a very serious infection of the lungs that can cause significant illness in certain patients. Accordingly, it's imperative that hospital workers take the proper steps to prevent the spread of illness-causing agents when treating patients. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology offers the following advice on what hospital staff must do to safeguard patient health.
While it seems exceedingly simple, the best thing for hospital staff to do is wash their hands. Hands must be washed before attending to a patient, after sneezing or coughing, after using the restroom, and any other situation where germs may be spread from one person to another. Staff should also wash their hands regardless if they wear gloves or not. Additionally, patients and visitors should be encouraged to wash their hands while in the hospital.
Safe practices must also be taken with breathing tubes. Breathing tubes greatly increase the chance of a patient acquiring pneumonia, so they must also be used judiciously. Even if a breathing tube must be used, health care staff should assess the situation on a regular basis to determine whether the apparatus can be removed. Staff can also reduce the risk of infection by wearing the proper protective items when placing a breathing tube. This includes gloves and masks, which should also be changed as needed when moving from patient to patient.
In terms of patient accommodations, beds should be kept at 30 to 45-degree angle. This prevents fluids from traveling into the lungs where they could potentially cause infection. When able, patients should be accompanied in walking around the facility. Even brief walks can be successful at reducing pneumonia.