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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Visiting the hospital? Protect your patient, be a witness to care

They come only to bring love and support, flowers and magazines. Yet visitors no doubt serve as vectors for infectious pathogens already in the hospital or unwisely walk in with some illness of their own. By the same token, given their proximity to the bedside, they can serve as witnesses to the quality of care being delivered. There has been some hesitancy it seems, to reach out strongly to this group in that regard, but now a new public health campaign enlists visitors to wash their hands and be mindful of infection risks during the process of care. Designed by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the “WAVE” campaign asks patients and their family members (aka visitors) to Wash hands, Ask questions, Vaccinate and Ensure safety. The latter is perhaps the boldest new step, as it calls for patients and visitors to “ensure safety by making sure that medical devices are clean and used properly.” The campaign provides several free tools including a wallet card, brochure and posters which organizations and hospitals can use to support their infection prevention efforts.