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Hand-washing mistakes and adenovirus outbreaks

Could mistakes in personal hygiene contribute to a deadly adenovirus outbreak in a medical facility near you and leave someone you love sicker than when they entered the hospital in the first place?

Quite possibly.

Despite the fact that few people have heard the term, adenoviruses are very common. They cause a variety of symptoms that are often mistaken for a simple cold, including sore throats, diarrhea, pink eye, bronchitis and pneumonia. Most people recover from a bout with an adenovirus fairly quickly and none the wiser about the existence of the viruses.

However, people with weakened immune systems or those with fragile health conditions like cardiac problems or lung disorders are much more likely to get very sick — or even die — from exposure to an adenovirus. A recent adenovirus outbreak in a New Jersey nursing center, for example, has claimed the lives of at least six children and sickened another dozen.

Unfortunately, a lot of the illnesses and deaths could be prevented if medical professionals remembered one basic commandment of good patient care: the importance of washing their hands between each patient.

Good hygiene is critically important when it comes to preventing the spread of viral infections and other diseases. Adenoviruses are known to transmit very easily when people touch an infected person or object and then touch their own — or someone else’s — nose, mouth or eyes.

While medical professionals are all educated about the importance of clean hands, many get into a hurry and simply get sloppy about remembering to wash or use sanitizer between each patient. In the New Jersey facility, for example, officials were able to determine that there were deficiencies when it came to hand-washing routines.

If you’re a patient — or the family member of a patient — make sure that you insist on clean hands before any medical professional tends to you. Your life may depend upon it!

If you are sickened due to the carelessness or negligence of a hospital worker, an attorney can help you better understand your options and right to compensation.