One of the easiest places to contract a dangerous infection is, ironically, the very same place you go for help—at the hospital, or, as, your care progresses, at a dialysis center or an outpatient clinic.

When it comes to your own safety, you are the expert—which means that you need to speak up if something doesn’t seem quite right. Here’s how:

  • Take a loved one or friend with you to the appointment, if possible, and ask for him or her to be your advocate.

  • Ask to talk with your provider about infection prevention—and do it before any procedure begins. Ask what will be done during the procedure to protect you as well as what you should do afterward.

  • Make sure that anyone who touches you washes his or her hands—even if they will eventually wear gloves.

  • Stay alert and speak up if something about the provider or the room doesn’t seem right. That could include an area that doesn’t seem especially clean, supplies that seem improperly stored, a staff member exhibiting signs of illness, or any other concern.

  • Tell a nurse or other provider if any intravenous catheter becomes loose or gets wet during a procedure.

  • Ensure that any wound dressing is clean and dry before you leave.

  • Ask during each appointment whether any catheters, tubes or other devices can be removed.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly upon leaving the appointment and again when you arrive home.