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Advice for visitors: Together we can fight infection

Patient information A-Z

Hospital infections can be introduced and spread by patients and visitors. This leaflet explains how you can help the staff to reduce them and provide a clean and safe environment in which to care for patients. By following the points in this leaflet, you can help us to prevent vulnerable individuals picking up an infection and prevent the spread of infections. If patients pick up an infection, it can cause additional pain and anxiety. It might result in additional treatments and prolong their stay in hospital.

What can you do?

1. Make sure you are in good health before visiting

  • If you have had diarrhoea and/ or vomiting, you should be symptom-free for at least 48 hours before your visit.
  • If you have a heavy cold, flu or a chest infection, do not visit until the symptoms go away. This is particularly important if you are visiting Oncology, Haematology, Transplant or Intensive Care Units.
  • If you have any open wounds, a clean, waterproof dressing should cover them

2. Have you had contact with people with infections?

Some infectious conditions, for example chicken pox, shingles and mumps may be a problem to patients, especially babies, children and adults with a vulnerable immune system. If you have been in contact with somebody who has an infection it is best if you do not visit other patients. If unsure, please contact the ward staff or Infection Control before you visit.

3. Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is the most effective way of stopping infections passing from person to person. In most instances, the best way to protect patients and yourselves is to use the hand sanitizer provided when entering and leaving the ward or if assisting patients with feeding. However in case of Clostridium difficile, or if there is viral diarrhoea and vomiting on the ward, or if you have been dealing with any bodily fluids, we would ask that you wash your hands. Make sure you cover all surfaces of your hands.

Feel free to remind others if they appear to have forgotten how to wash your hands

You should wet your hands first, then apply soap. Rub hands together thoroughly, paying particular attention to the backs of hands, go up to the wrist area, in between fingers, finger nail beds and thumbs – these areas are commonly missed. Make sure that you dry your hands thoroughly.

4. Patients being barrier nursed

If a patient is being barrier nursed in a single room or in a bay, please check with staff before entering. The aim of this is to prevent the transfer of infection from the patient to other patients, staff and visitors. Always perform hand hygiene on leaving.

General advice

  1. In order to assist ward staff in maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness only bring in essential items and try to keep patients’ personal belongings in the designated locker.
  2. Stick to visiting times and the numbers of visitors allowed.
  3. Please do not sit or lie on patients’ beds, use the chairs provided. Do not use the patient toilets.
  4. Never touch patients’ wounds, drips, tubes etc. If you do so accidentally, please wash your hands immediately.
  5. If you are visiting more than one patient, perform hand hygiene in between them. You should visit non-infectious patients first.
  6. Non-perishable items of food can be brought in for patients. Other food must be prepared following good food hygiene principles. It must be stored correctly in transit to the hospital and consumed immediately. If this cannot be guaranteed, the Infection Control Team does not recommend that this be given to patients.
  7. Please do not go into the ward kitchens unless you have been given specific permission from ward staff.
  8. Children should be discouraged from crawling on the floor and must be supervised at all times.
  9. Check what kind of gifts it is ok to bring in. Some wards don’t allow flowers.
  10. Talk to the ward staff if you have concerns about the cleanliness of the environment.

Further information

Adapted from

Royal College of Nursing, Information for Visitors – MRSA and other health care associated infections. April 2005.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151