Hospitals and clinics should be a place where infections are cured, not acquired.
Unfortunately, if healthcare settings are not carefully and routinely disinfected, they can become reservoirs of pathogens and spread infections to previously uninfected patients.
Such infections are called Healthcare-Associated Infections, or HAIs.
Infections from healthcare environments are concerning for many reasons. They tend to increase the length of a patient’s hospital stay, pose a serious threat when caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria, and expose immunocompromised patients to further illness. HAIs are also very costly. Over 1 million HAIs occur in the U.S. each year, increasing patient mortality rates and costing healthcare systems billions of dollars.
Common HAIs include:
- Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSI): CLABSIs occur when pathogens enter a patient’s central line and then move to the bloodstream. There are an estimated 250,000 cases of CLABSIs annually in the United States and cost healthcare systems $25,000 per case.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): UTIs are infections within the urinary system including the bladder, urethra, kidney, and ureters, and are the most common type of HAIs. Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs) make up 75% of hospital UTIs and generally stem from prolonged use of a urinary catheter.
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP): VAP is an infection contracted by pathogenic microbes – usually bacteria – entering the tube of a patient using a ventilator. VAP accounts for 11% of patients that contract infections in hospital settings and is the leading cause of mortality of HAIs.
This risk of contracting HAIs is reduced when hospitals and other healthcare settings take frequent, effective action to clean and disinfect hands, air, and environmental surfaces. Surveillance programs that monitor HAIs also help by raising awareness among staff and showing trends in HAIs.