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Stay Healthy With Tips To Prevent Infection

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​The third week of October is recognized as International Infection Prevention Week in an effort to raise awareness of the importance of infection prevention around the globe.

Teera Wilkins speaks with Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner Alice Warren on the importance of infection prevention and for tips on how you can stay healthy.

Faculty and staff who are traveling internationally on business should consult with the Occupational Health Clinic to see what vaccinations they may need for their trip.

Begin Transcript

Teera Wilkins:          Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast.  I am Teera Wilkins with Occupational Health Clinic.  International Infection Prevention Week is to raise awareness for the importance of infection prevention around the globe.  Today, I will talk to Alice Warren.  Alice is a nurse practitioner at Occupational Health.  Hi Alice.

Alice Warren:           Good afternoon Teera.

Teera Wilkins:          Thank you.  Alice, let’s start by asking why is the International Infection Prevention Week important?

Alice Warren:           That is a good question, Teera, and we know one thing, we all want to stay healthy and do not want to be sick with any infections at all, but primarily, it really has increased the cost of health care for all of us for the infections that we have.  We have found out in the last few years that there are many infections that people acquire when they go into a hospital to be treated for other things.  About 1.7 million people each year get infections when they went in to be treated for something else and a large number of these actually end in an unnecessary death with an expense burden to the health care of about $50,000 more for each person that acquires that infection than one who does not.  So, it really is important to minimize these with the financial cost as well as just being able to perform your daily activities more.

Teera Wilkins:          Can you explain how health care workers, patients, and even the community can help with prevention when it comes to an infection or spreading the infection?

Alice Warren:           Yes, that is a big challenge for all of us that work in health care institutions to keep that infection down.  One of the first things to do is when you go into a health care institution, talk about it, ask question, do not be shy about speaking up of for your own care.  Make sure that everyone that comes into the room washes their hands.  Washing the hands regularly is one of the primary ways to prevent becoming infected with anything.  Ask about the injection practices in the institution if you are getting an injection.  Remember there should be used only one needle with one syringe in one time.  Some other steps that you might do is to ask about the medications that you are getting, know what they are, how to take them, how often you should take them, and if you have an antibiotic, make sure you take the antibiotic for the full course of time, even if you start to feel better.  So, those are some primary things within health care institution but think about also being a good visitor into a hospital.  So, if you are going in to be a visitor, you can assist with preventing infections by making sure you do not take anything in.  If you are sick, stay at home.  Do not plan your visit.  Make a visit with your friend or family through the telephone but do not go into a hospital if you are sick yourself.  If you are there, make sure that you wash your hands before and after your visit, and if there is any precautions associated when you come in as a visitor, ask the nurse if there is a precaution of some kind of isolation.  Ask the nurse about what you need to do to reduce the chance of bringing in anything to this person on isolation or that you become infected from something there.

Teera Wilkins:          Are there different precautions that should be practiced when someone is traveling internationally compared to when someone is traveling within the United States?

Alice Warren:           Yes, we all want to travel internationally and have a pleasant trip whether it is vacation or working internationally, but outside the US, you might be exposed to diseases and things that you do not normally have here.  So, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor before you take any international travel about vaccination that you might need to prevent any infections from diseases that can be prevented with a vaccination.  Also, you want to be sure and think about taking a lot of hand sanitizer with you, be able to wash your hands if you are frequently keeping up clean, and it is a good idea to just take along the first aid kit with things that might have antiseptics in it to use for cleaning if you have minor injuries to minimize the infection that might be acquired through an open skin wound.

Teera Wilkins:          Well, this is all great information to take in, and I appreciate you taking some time and explaining to us what this week represents.

Thanks for listening.  Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page.  If you have any story suggestions, please email us at or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at

— end of recording (05:09) —

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 in Occupational Health Clinic, Wellcasts and tagged ,


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