(NewsUSA) – The news is full of headlines about the flu, CRE and the measles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that Clostridium difficile (C.diff) infections have doubled in recent years. If you or a loved one needs to go to the hospital, how do you avoid contracting a deadly infection?

There’s no disputing the facts — infections are caused by microorganisms like C.diff, MRSA, VRE, CRE and norovirus. These antibiotic-resistant germs lurk on high-touch surfaces in hospitals and health care facilities — and some, like C.diff, can live for months on bedrails and tray tables. With new and deadlier viruses and bacteria emerging everyday, what do you need to know to avoid getting sick?

1. Superbugs are everywhere inside hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and even surgery centers. Research shows that even after the most thorough manual cleaning, 50 percent of the surfaces in a room are still contaminated enough to cause infection.

2. Do you need that antibiotic? Is it the right one? Don’t use antibiotics for viral ailments, and don’t insist on them for children’s viral infections. C.diff reproduction in a patient’s intestines is aided by broad-spectrum antibiotics and proton-pump inhibitors.

3. Be prepared, and carefully research the hospital where you are being treated. Look at the hospital’s patient safety record. A good resource is www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. Look at its infection rates — available at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

4. Hand hygiene may save your life. When you are in the hospital, follow hand-hygiene protocol carefully, and make sure every health care worker (such as doctors and nurses) washes their hands before they touch the patient.

5. Superbugs can be destroyed before they harm patients. Properly disinfecting a patient room with a Xenex germ-zapping robot adds only 10 minutes to room turnover time, and hospitals using Xenex UV light robots are reporting significant decreases in their hospital acquired infection rates. If you or a loved one is going to the hospital, make sure the room has been properly disinfected. Insist on only going to a hospital that uses Xenex germ-zapping robots to disinfect its rooms.

New antibiotics may be part of the solution for solving the superbug crisis, but getting the germs out of the patient environment before they make people sick is what can and should be done right now. It only takes a matter of minutes — and it may save your life. Visit www.xenex.com to learn more.