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7 Ways to Guard Against Germs in Health Care Settings

7-Tips-Sheet

Download a PDF of "7 Ways for People with CF to Guard Against Germs in Health Care Settings." 

Regular visits to CF clinics are important to maintain your health. The following tips are intended to help you make informed decisions to protect yourself and others from catching and spreading germs in health care settings.

These recommendations are based on the Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines for CF.


1. Work with Your CF Care Team

You are an important member of your CF care team. While you depend on your team members at clinic for essential guidance on your medical care, you can suggest ways to help reduce the risk of spreading germs during your clinic visits.

Talk to your care team about any questions or concerns you have about germs and the risks and benefits associated with any part of your treatment. Although germs are everywhere, there is a lot that you and your care team can do together to reduce the risk from germs while maintaining your health through regular clinic visits.

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2. Keep a Safe 6-Foot Distance

Keep a Safe 6-Foot Distance
Germs can spread as far as 6 feet (2 meters) through droplets released in the air when someone coughs or sneezes.

Try to stay at least 6 feet away from others with CF and anyone with a cold, flu or infections while at clinic or in the hospital, where you’re more likely to be around others who are sick.

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3. Wash Your Hands

You can catch and spread germs when you touch something with germs already on it, like a doorknob or handrail, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand gel. Encourage your family and friends to keep their hands clean as well.

Everyone should wash or clean their hands:

Before:

  • Entering and leaving a clinic or hospital room.

After:

  • Coughing or sneezing.
  • Touching shared objects, like pens or doorknobs.
  • Doing pulmonary function tests or chest physiotherapy.
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4. Wear a Mask

Wearing a mask can help you reduce your risk of breathing in or spreading germs to others. The mask can block out germ-carrying droplets or remains of droplets that can be suspended in the air.

When you enter any health care setting, wear a surgical mask. Use the smallest mask possible to fit your face and replace the mask if it gets wet.

You can remove your mask:

  • When you are inside a clinic exam room.
  • When you are inside your hospital room.
  • During a pulmonary function test.

If wearing a mask makes it difficult to breathe, talk to your CF care team about other options to protect you from germs.

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5. Cover Your Cough

Cover Your Cough
You can spread germs to others when you cough or sneeze. Germs can remain in the air on tiny droplets — ready to be breathed in. They can also remain on surfaces long after you’ve coughed or sneezed on or near them.

Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away immediately, then wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand gel.

If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. If you cough or sneeze into your hands, you should wash your hands immediately afterward.

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6. Clean and Disinfect Your Nebulizer During Hospital Stays

When you are in the hospital, it is important to work with the hospital staff to keep your nebulizer clean and disinfected since you can breathe in germs through your nebulizer and risk developing a lung infection.

People with CF should have their own nebulizer and perform respiratory treatments in separate rooms to avoid spreading germs.

When using a disposable nebulizer:

  • Throw away the nebulizer after 24 hours.
  • Use a single-dose vial of medication whenever possible.

When using a reusable nebulizer:

When using an Altera, eRapid or other eFlow technology nebulizer:

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7. Get Vaccinated

Get Vaccinated

Vaccinations help your body protect itself from germs, like the flu virus, which are especially dangerous for people with CF.

Help your body guard itself against germs by staying up to date on your vaccinations. Encourage your family and friends to also get vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading germs.

For a list of what vaccinations to get and when to get them, talk to your care team at your next clinic visit.

You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

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To learn more:

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