Learn Where Germs Live in Health Care

Patient in a Hospital Room with images to help show Where Germs Live in Healthcare

Reservoir: A place where germs live

Although we can’t see them, germs are everywhere, and they need somewhere to grow – a place where they can live. These places, called reservoirs, are found on and in our bodies and in the environment.

Recognizing where germs live in health care is the first step in understanding how to stop their spread and protect patients.

Common activities that bypass or break down the body’s natural defenses:

  • Surgery
  • Inserting an IV
  • Chemotherapy
  • Antibiotic Use

Most germs are not harmful to us. But when we encounter germs that could be harmful or make us sick, our body’s natural defenses do a great job at keeping us healthy. In health care however, there’s a higher chance for germs to spread because that’s where people who are sick come for care. Patients are also more likely to have weakened immune systems or to need a procedure that might break through their body’s natural defenses, making them more vulnerable to infection. And sometimes you are the opportunity for germs to spread – throughout any given day you interact with a lot of coworkers and patients, touch a lot of things, and use shared devices and equipment.

Recognizing reservoirs – the places where germs live – throughout your workday is the first step in being able to see the risk for germs to spread – and knowing when to do something about it so that you can protect your patients and yourself.