Hospitals are marked as a refuge and an emblem of health. They are where we retreat in times of sickness and upon what we rely for treatment. However, within the walls of a hospital are a myriad of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. And among immunosuppressed, sick, and ultimately vulnerable patients, these can pose significant threats. These are why hospital-borne infections are quite common among admitted patients. In fact, one in ten people who stay overnight in a healthcare facility will contract such an infection. And so, it is important to understand the risk and ensure precautions are taken with every opportunity.
An infection caught in a hospital is referred to as a nosocomial infection. These are contracted in response to a toxin that lives within a confined space. And since hospitals are full of infectious people, these bugs love to live here. Nosocomial infections are also called Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI’s) in the case that it was only contracted after the person received medical care.
HAI’s are undoubtedly problematic for anyone that contracts them. However, they are most threatening to immunosuppressed patients in the hospital, such as those receiving certain cancer treatments or someone with an organ transplant. And as health care increases in complexity and antibiotic resistance goes up, so will the prevalence of HAIs. Their threat extends even to hospital logistics as they increase morbidity, mortality, and hospital costs.
So, how can these be prevented?
Preventing healthcare-associated infections is primarily the responsibility of the facility and its staff members. Each member of a patients’ medical team is expected to follow the strict guidelines of sterilization and disinfection processes. That’s because taking such preventative measures can decrease a person’s risk by 70 percent. However, the mere nature of a hospital is exceptionally good at cultivating these harmful bugs. It is impossible to prevent them with total assurance.
What are the most common types of HAIs?
The most common healthcare-associated infections include:
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Surgical Site Infections