Staff of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals are fighting back against the seasonal round of infections this Christmas with a reminder to patients and visitors not to visit hospital if they have flu-like symptoms, or diarrhoea and vomiting.
Infections like flu and the norovirus bug – often nicknamed ‘winter vomiting disease’ – are more common at this time of the year. Norovirus can spread quickly in close-knit areas such as hospitals, schools, nursing and residential homes.
That’s why hospital staff are asking anyone who has flu-like symptoms or think they may have norovirus not to come to the Emergency Department or visit hospital until they have been completely symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
Maurice Madeo, Deputy Director of Infection Prevention & Control at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, also reminded people of the need for good hand hygiene in preventing infections.
“Hand hygiene is the single most important thing that we can do to prevent the spread of infections,” says Maurice. “Norovirus is not in itself a serious illness but it can have extremely worrying consequences for hospitals. An outbreak may mean we have to restrict admissions to hospital wards in order to contain the infection.
“That’s why it’s so important not to visit hospital until you have been symptom-free with no nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea for at least 48 hours. If you visit hospital before then, you could still unwittingly pass your norovirus onto hospital patients and staff.”
Although very unpleasant, norovirus usually clears up in one or two days and most people can care for themselves with paracetamol and plenty of fluids. Norovirus is very contagious and can be spread by contact with an infected person, by consuming contaminated food or water, or by contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. This is why washing hands regularly is extremely effective in protecting against norovirus.
Staff are saying to patients and visitors:
· Don’t come to hospital if you have any signs of a stomach upset or have flu-like symptoms.
· At home, always wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before handling food.
· If visiting someone in hospital, wash your hands before and after the visit. Use the hand gel provided at the hospital and ward entrances. Please don’t use patients’ toilets.
· If you have had a stomach upset, wait until you have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours before visiting hospital to protect sick and vulnerable patients.
By working with hospitals in this way, the public can help staff keep patients safe and fight the spread of infection.