-- Infections picked up in the hospital can be serious, even life-threatening.
But patients and their visitors can help prevent the spread of dangerous germs by keeping their hands clean, health care professionals say.
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists recommends the following five tips for all hospital patients and their visitors:
Don't touch your face, eyes, nose, mouth or any open cuts or wounds after touching anything in the hospital room, such as bed rails, tables, doorknobs, TV remotes or the phone.
Sanitize your cell phone before using it in the hospital.
Wash your hands with soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before holding the hand of a patient or loved one. This can help reduce -- but not eliminate -- germs such as C. difficile, which can cause diarrhea.
Avoid eating with unclean hands. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises patients and visitors to wash their hands before eating or preparing food. It's also important to sanitize your hands before and after changing bandages, using the restroom, blowing your nose or touching any surfaces.
Remind health-care providers to wash or sanitize their hands before performing a physical exam.