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Discharge Instructions for Immunocompromised Patients

You have either undergone a procedure or been diagnosed with an illness that has made you “immunocompromised.” This means that your immune system is very weak, making it difficult to fight off infection. Certain cancers, cancer treatments, HIV infection, and transplant surgery are examples of things that can make you immunocompromised. You must be very careful—even the slightest infection can carry the risk of hospitalization or death. This sheet gives precautions you can follow to protect yourself from infection. You will need to follow them until your doctor tells you that you can stop. You may need to be careful for the rest of your life. Your degree of immunosuppression may vary based on your diagnosis or treatment. some of the instructions listed below may not be absolutely necessary. Ask your doctor what's necessary for you.

Medication

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed.

  • Don’t take any other medications, including over-the-counter preparations or supplements, unless your doctor says it’s OK.

  • Tell your doctor about any side effects you have.

Skin Care

  • Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom.

  • Wash your hands before taking care of any wounds or injuries.

  • Use hypoallergenic sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.

  • Avoid direct sun exposure on your skin.

  • Use an electric razor for shaving.

  • Inspect your skin daily for irritation, cracks, or rashes.

Keep Your Home Clean

  • Clean floors, carpets, furniture, and countertops regularly.

  • Be sure your bathroom is clean.

  • Wash your hands after handling trash.

Prevent Colds and the Flu

  • Avoid public places such as shopping malls, especially during crowded holidays and big sales events.

  • Limit visits with young children. They frequently have colds or the flu.

  • Avoid contact with anyone who has a cold, the flu, or another contagious condition (such as measles, chickenpox, herpes, pinkeye, cough, sore throat).

  • You may need to wear a mask when going outdoors. Check with your doctor.

Other Ways to Lower Your Risk of Infection

  • Check with your doctor before kissing or having close intimate contact.

  • Ask your doctor before using cosmetics, contact lenses, tampons, or douches.

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.

  • Don’t use portable humidifiers or vaporizers.

  • Avoid contact with animals.

    • If you do come in contact with an animal, wash your hands immediately afterward.

    • Avoid contact with pet urine or feces.

    • Don’t clean litter boxes, cages, or aquariums.

  • Check with your doctor before cutting your nails. Use of a nail file may be recommended. If you have trouble cutting or filing your own nails, a podiatrist (a doctor who specializes in foot health) can help.

  • Do not go barefoot outdoors.

Follow-Up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

 

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Blurred vision or eye problems

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Ongoing fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Rash or hives

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

  • Cut or rash that swells, turns red, feels hot or painful, or begins to ooze

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher, or chills

  • Diarrhea that does not go away after 2 loose stools

  • Pain or cramping in the abdomen

 

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