Hospitals, caregivers and patients work to eradicate HAIs

Most people go to a hospital expecting to get better or, at the very least, not get sicker. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day approximately 1 in 25 people in the United States contract a hospital-acquired infection. In some ways, a hospital is the perfect place for HAIs to flourish: So many people in a hospital already have a compromised immune system, so pathogens spread easily through the body.

The pathogens spread through the body, and the HAI spreads quickly through the facility. Patients may interact with each other. A more troubling explanation is that hospital staff may not follow procedures, or perhaps the facility itself is in poor condition. Whatever the cause, the results can be one or more of the following. Please note: The list is not comprehensive:

  • A surgical site infection
  • An infection in the bloodstream
  • Pneumonia
  • A urinary tract infection
  • A gastrointestinal illness

CDC researchers found that pneumonia and surgery site complications are the most common of the healthcare-associated infections.

The CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network evaluates facilities enrolled in the program for their prevention efforts. The process is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' effort to prevent hospital-acquired infections. The DHHS has also allocated funding to states to provide a better infrastructure to protect patients. Tennessee is quite active in fighting HAIs and is one of just 10 states participating in the CDC's additional surveillance and research program.

Patients may want to check providers' safety records before going ahead with surgery or an invasive procedure. The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths provides information regarding a surgeon's infection rate. Additionally, the CRID notes that patients can ask hospital staff to wash their hands before any interactions.

Even the most diligent patients will still be at risk of acquiring an infection during a hospital stay. The entire facility must be dedicated to preventing HAIs.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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