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Discharge Instructions for Immunocompromised Patients

You have either had a procedure or been diagnosed with an illness that has made you “immunocompromised.” This means that your immune system is very weak, making it hard to fight off infection. The ability to fight off infection varies. It depends on your specific health problem and the treatment you have. Certain cancers, cancer treatments, HIV infection, and transplant surgery are some things that can make you immunocompromised. You must be very careful. Even the slightest infection can carry the risk for hospitalization or death. The following information will help you protect yourself from infection.

  • Make an appointment to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

  • Follow these instructions until your healthcare provider tells you that you can stop.

  • Some of the instructions may not be needed. Ask your provider what's right for you.

Medicine

  • Take your medicines exactly as told.

  • Don’t take any other medicines, including over-the-counter ones, unless your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Tell your provider about any side effects you have.

Skin care

  • Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom. Make sure you wash them before and after changing any dressing or bandages.

  • Stay out of direct sunlight. Use sunscreen that is labeled hypoallergenic. Make sure it has an SPF of 30 or higher. 

  • Use an electric razor for shaving so you don't cut yourself.

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

Keep your home clean

  • Clean floors, carpets, furniture, and counter tops regularly. Use products that kill germs.

  • Keep your kitchen clean and store all foods safely.

  • Keep your bathroom clean.

  • Don't keep plants or flowers indoors. If you garden, wear gloves.

  • Wash your hands after handling trash.

Prevent colds and the flu

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often. Try to keep your hands away from your mouth, nose, and face. Make sure you wash your hands before eating.

  • Stay away from public places such as shopping malls, especially when crowded.

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

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

  • Check with your provider about whether or not you should wear a mask when you are around people.

  • Check with your provider about recommended immunizations or vaccines.

Other ways to lower your risk for infection

  • Check with your provider before having close contact with others.

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

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.

  • Don’t use humidifiers or vaporizers.

  • Stay away from animals.

    • If you do touch an animal, wash your hands afterward right away.

    • Don't come into contact with pet urine or feces.

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

  • Check with your provider before cutting your nails. It may be advised that you file your nails instead. If you have trouble cutting or filing your own toenails, a podiatrist or foot healthcare provider can help.

  • To prevent injuring your feet or coming in contact with germs, always wear socks and shoes.

  • Drink safe filtered water.

  • Take care when traveling. Talk with your healthcare provider for guidelines, especially when traveling abroad.

Follow-up care

Make sure you see your provider as soon as possible. You will likely have an exam and more tests, if needed. You will also have a chance to ask questions.

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

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Blurred vision or eye problems

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Ongoing fatigue

  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat

  • Rash or hives

  • Skin cut or sore 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 belly

When to call 911

Call 911 right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, or tightness of the throat

  • Trouble breathing or talking

  • Feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded

  • Skin or lips that turn blue, gray, or purple in color

  • Feeling of doom

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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