An Introduction to Hospital-Associated Infections
Hospital-Associated Infections (HAIs), also known as Healthcare-Associated Infections are infections that patients contrast as a direct result of hospital care. Hospital-Associated Infections have become an important focus for healthcare clinics and experts, owing to the rising costs of healthcare, in addition to the number of patients suffering from obtaining illnesses.
More importantly, Hospital-Associated also have a positive effect, in that the infections present reflect the problems inherent in conventional healthcare, urging practitioners to seek new and improved solutions to bring down operating costs and provide a quality healthcare service.
Why HAIs occur?
Healthcare providers today use a wide variety of specialist tools, equipment, and machinery to provide health services for a spectrum of diseases and illnesses. Tools and equipment such as ventilators and catheters are used in a number of medical procedures for treatment and recovery.
However, these medical tools and equipment give rise to a variety of infections, some of which include:
- Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)
These infections lead to the deaths of thousands of patients every year and add a considerable amount of healthcare expenses in the U.S. healthcare system. CLABSI infections, however, can be prevented and many reputed healthcare organizations, such as CDC, are drafting safer healthcare operating regulations and guidelines to ensure that this is achievable.
- Surgical Site Infections (SSI)
These infections take place after a surgery in the area of the body in which the surgery has taken place. Although many SSI relate to the skin, other more serious infections pertain to organs.
- Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP)
These are lung infections that occur in persons who are on ventilators. The infection occurs when bacteria from the machine enter the nose or mouth of a patient and get absorbed into the lungs.
- Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI)
These are infections that occur in any part of the urinary system, such as the, kidney, bladder urethra and ureters.
The Extent of the Problem
The life-threatening consequences of HAIs have attracted international attention and efforts to curb the effects. Over the years, HAIs have decreased on a significant level. Among these are central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) that have fallen by as much as half in the 2008-2014 period. Other types of infections have also reduced over the same period, but at a much lower level. This is the case of SSI and MRSA infections. Perhaps the most resilient infection that has not seen any reduction is CAUTI infections, though there has been noticeable success in the 2009-2014 period.
HAIs cost $4.5-$5.7 billion annually in the U.S. alone. About 5% of these infections are construction and maintenance-related, costing $225-$285 million each year. Construction dust is a vehicle for many types of fungal spores to travel throughout the building. This could potentially cause fatal problems for immunocompromised patients.