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Rx for Staying Safe When Receiving Medical Care

How to safely go to the doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic. The top 13 hidden germ hot spots at doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics and hospitals.

Like many of us, you may have put off scheduling regular doctor’s appointments during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now you’re trying to ease your way back to normal life, including trips to the doctor’s office, or maybe you’ve had to go to the hospital to receive the care you need.

Ready to receive medical care? The risks of where you go depend on if you’re vaccinated and whether you live in an area where the infection rate is rising.

We turned to our expert Paul Medeiros, NSF’s Managing Director of Consulting and Technical Services, and the Centers for Disease Control for some advice before you head out the door to get medical treatment.

“The risks of where you go depend on if you’re vaccinated and whether you live in an area where the infection rates are rising again,” says Medeiros. “It’s more important than ever to make a plan to get vaccinated, but make sure you take your rightful turn to do so.”

The first step in reducing risk is knowing where those hidden germy spots are. The CDC identifies these top 13 high-touch surfaces in doctors’ offices, hospitals and health care settings:

  1. Bed rails
  2. Chair arms in waiting rooms
  3. Bed frames
  4. Doorknobs
  5. Elevator buttons
  6. Touchpads
  7. Moveable lamps
  8. Tray tables
  9. Bedside tables
  10. Handles
  11. IV poles
  12. Blood pressure cuffs
  13. Call buttons

With these germy danger spots in mind, the best way to protect yourself is through frequent handwashing and wearing a face mask.

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol before or after touching any surfaces in public areas, such as in the waiting room.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth.

Also, if you are a patient in a hospital, make sure (or ask your caregiver to make sure) that everyone, including friends and family, cleans their hands before touching you. If you don’t see your health care providers wash their hands, ask them to do so, too.

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