Patient Safety Tool: 9 Tips to Reduce Risk of Pneumonia

In light of recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that pneumonia is now the most common healthcare-associated infection, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology has compiled a list of tips for patients and families to decrease patient risk of developing pneumonia.

1. Patients, healthcare providers and visitors should clean their hands at every opportunity.

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2. Patients should ask healthcare providers about alternatives to intubation. Healthcare providers should strive to remove breathing tubes as soon as possible.

3. Healthcare providers should change protective garments after intubation to reduce the risk of spreading respiratory secretions.

4. Patients should always do their recommended breathing exercises, as they strengthen the respiratory system and lower the risk of contracting pneumonia.

5. Healthcare providers should raise the head of patient beds to between 30 and 45 degrees to prevent inhalation of anything other than air.

6. If an intubated patient is on sedation medication, it should stop as soon as possible to determine if the patient is ready to have the breathing tube removed.

7. Patients, family members and providers should be vaccinated against the common causes of bacterial pneumonia.

8. Patients should keep their mouths clean.

9. Smokers should consider quitting, as smoking significantly raises risk of pneumonia. 

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