Healthcare Infections and You

People usually go to the hospital to be treated for an illness or injury. But they also can go for testing to find out if they have a certain condition. Whether there for a procedure, surgery or other type of treatment, there is a chance that they may get an infection because of the many germs floating around in a hospital. This type of hospital infection is called a healthcare-associated infection (HAI).

Hospital Infection Epidemic?

Every year, one out of every 20 hospitalized patients across the country get an HAI, according to government statistics. In 2002, an estimated 1.7 million patients acquired HAIs in U.S. hospitals. Most patients can be treated for an HAI, but a small number of them will die as a result of getting this type of infection. In 2002, approximately 99,000 patients died from acquiring an HAI. That breaks down to more than 4,600 patients becoming infected while in the hospital—271 of which will die—every day.

Hospitals aren’t the only healthcare setting in which patients can get an HAI. Other settings where people can acquire them include outpatient surgery centers or ambulatory care settings, nursing homes or long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, dialysis centers and community clinics. These viruses have even been found in ambulances.

Your healthcare provider Can Reduce the risk of you getting an hospital infection during your care.

Facility Type
Hospital
.
Acute Care Hospital
.
Intensive Care Unit
.
Operating Room
.
Emergency Room
.
.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
.
Long Term Care -Nursing Home
.
Doctors office
.
Community Clinic
.
Dialysis Center
.
Cancer Treatment Center
.
Long Term Care -Nursing Home
Most Common HAI
MRSA
.
.
VRE
.
.
Surgical Site Infection
.
CABSI
.
.
CAUTI
.
.
VAP
.
C. Diff
.
.
Product Related Infection
.
.
Steps often Missed
Inadequate hand washing by facility staff*
.
Inadequate hand washing by facility staff*
.
Correct use of antibiotics
.
Failure to insert catheter properly or care for catheter
.
Failure to insert catheter properly or care for catheter
.
Extended time on ventilator
.
Inadequate hand washing by facility staff*
.
Improper use or sterilization of medical devices

* The single most important way to stop the spread of these germs is hand washing. Despite that, only 40%, on average, of healthcare providers wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rubs.

Danger of HAIs in the U.S.

The most recent government statistics suggest that approximately 1.7 million patients acquired HAIs in U.S. hospitals in 2002. Approximately 99,000 of those patients died from those hospital infections and HAIs. Whether that number is getting larger or dropping is hard to say because of how these hospital infections are tracked. Many different types of organizations ranging from individual hospitals to state agencies to the federal government monitor the number of HAIs. But they don’t always use the same definitions or group them the same way, making it hard to compare the numbers.

On a positive note, rates of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA acquired in healthcare settings dropped 9% annually between 2005 and 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From 2001 to 2009, CABSIs occurring in intensive care unit patients dropped by 58%. On the down side, deaths from gut infections more than doubled from 1999 to 2007. The numbers rose from 7,000 to 17,000 deaths a year. Two-thirds of the deaths were caused by Clostridium Difficile, which is the most common cause of healthcare-associated diarrhea. Hospital infection related stays from C. difficile infections have tripled in the last decade.

Hospital Infections and Prevention

Some medical procedures and surgeries create possible routes of infection. The hospital environment itself can contribute to the spread of germs. Of course, the main source of spread is through person-to-person contact; primarily from the healthcare provider or others working in the hospital to the patient. The single most important way to stop the spread of these germs is hand washing. Despite that, only 40%, on average, of healthcare providers wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rubs.

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