Healthcare Acquired Infections

Infections can result from medical procedures and surgeries used to treat patients and help them recover from illnesses. They also can result from coming in contact with one of the many types of germs that cause HAIs during their hospital stay.

For example, HAIs can be caused by medical devices, such as catheters or ventilators. More than five million hospitalized patients each year require a urinary catheter. That’s one out of four patients. As many as 25% of hospitalized patients requiring a urinary catheter for more than seven days gets a catheter-acquired urinary tract infection or CAUTI. A central line-associated bloodstream infection or CABSI is caused by another type of catheter known as a central line or central catheter. Approximately 41,000 bloodstream infections strike hospital patients with central lines each year. But CABSIs also occur in outpatient settings. Approximately 37,000 bloodstream infections occurred in hemodialysis patients with central lines. While a ventilator is a life-saving device, it also can increase a patient’s chance of getting pneumonia. This type of HAI is known as ventilator-associated pneumonia or VAP. It is the leading cause of death among HAIs. CAUTIs, CABSIs and VAP account for approximately two-thirds of all HAIs.

Infections also may occur following an operation in the part of the body where the surgery took place. These are called surgical site infections or SSIs. Most patients who have surgery do not develop an SSI. But these HAIs do develop in approximately one to three of every 100 patients who have surgery.

Additionally, several types of germs can cause HAIs. They are mostly spread person-to-person through unclean hands of doctors, nurses, other healthcare providers, other patients and even visitors. These viruses also can be on hospital surfaces, such as bed linens and rails, bathroom fixtures and even countertops, walls and floors. The germs can stay on these surfaces long after the infected patient has left the hospital. These viruses can be on medical equipment, such as blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes. They also can be on healthcare providers’ gowns and gloves. These germs, which are difficult to kill, can be spread by coming in contact with these contaminated surfaces and items.

Some of these HAIs have become harder to cure because the germs causing them can no longer be treated using commonly used antibiotics. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococcus or VRE and Clostridium Difficile or C. difficile are all bacteria that cannot be killed by some antibiotics.

The 10 most common bacteria that account for 84% of all HAIs are:

  • Coagulase-negative staphylococci (15%)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (15%)
  • Enterococcus species (12%)
  • Candida species (11%)
  • Escherichia coli (10%)
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa (8%)
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae (6%)
  • Enterobacter species (5%)
  • Acinetobacter baumannii (3%)
  • Klebsiella oxytoca (2%)

Proper diagnosis and treatment of patients harmed by infections caught both before and during the administration of medical care is critical.

Health care professionals are required to carefully monitor a patient after surgery and other medical procedures to promptly and correctly identify and treat an infection. Early intervention can greatly decrease the impact of a post-operative and other infection acquired in the medical facility.

The healthcare community has the ability to diagnose and treat the vast majority of infections. Failure to do so effectively, however, may result in a serious condition known as “sepsis.’” When sepsis hasn’t been diagnosed quickly, the systemic infection can compromise the body’s organs. If left untreated for a prolonged period of time, sepsis could possibly permanently damage vital organs, such as the lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain, a condition known as “septic shock”. The infection ultimately causing sepsis can start from any site. Typical sources may include open wounds for instance bedsores, surgical incisions or laceration, and also an internal injury like a perforated bowel or bladder usually happening as a result of surgical procedures.

Possible signs and symptoms of a post-operative infection

  • Malaise (tired/lack of energy), feeling disorientated, confusion, agitation.
  • Fever
  • Swelling at incision site
  • Redness at incision site
  • Increased Pain
  • Decreased urination
  • Rash
  • Swelling of joint
Steps to limit harm after an infection has been noticed

  • Identify the seriousness of an existing infection
  • consult with infectious disease experts
  • Thoroughly review infection symptoms
  • Take samples of infected areas
  • Match appropriate antibiotics to an infection
  • Note personal medical care histories with treatment plans e.g., failure to note resistance to antibiotics
  • Ensure that an infection has resolved completely

What are the consequences of post-operative infections?

The consequences of post-operative infections are typically increased financial costs to the patient, a longer period of hospitalization, pain and suffering, and the increased likelihood of more procedures to treat the complications.

Developing a post operative infection increases the risk of dangerous blood clots.  Even when steps are taken to reduce the risk of blood clots like use of anticoagulants the risk is still hirer for patients who have a post operative infection.  A study led by John Hopkins shows patients with a infection have a 4 times greater risk of developing a pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis. Patients with surgical site infections, one of the most common types of hospital infections need to be watched carefully before and after they are discharged from the hospital.  These types of complications are potentially fatal and occur after abdominal or orthopedic surgery.

These complications can be prevented and checklist to aid the healthcare workers have been created.