HAIs: What They Are?
Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), also known as nosocomial infections, are infections that patients get while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions. HAIs occur in all settings of care, including hospitals, surgical centers, ambulatory clinics, and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.
Who's At Risk?
All hospitalized patients are susceptible to contracting a nosocomial infection. Some patients are at greater risk than others-young children, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are more likely to get an infection. Other risk factors are long hospital stays, the use of indwelling catheters, failure of healthcare workers to wash their hands, and overuse of antibiotics.
In American hospitals alone, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that HAIs account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year. Of these infections:
- 32 percent of all healthcare acquired infection are urinary tract infections
- 22 percent are surgical site infections
- 15 percent are pneumonia (lung infections)
- 14 percent are bloodstream infections
What's at Stake?
Patients who acquire infections from surgery spend, on average, an additional 6.5 days in the hospital, are five times more likely to be readmitted after discharge and twice as likely to die. Moreover, surgical patients who develop infections are 60 percent more likely to require admission to a hospital's intensive care unit. Surgical infections are believed to account for up to ten billion dollars annually in healthcare expenditures.
What are Providers Are Doing to Prevent HAIs?
Recent reports have shown that many HAIs can be prevented through the strict adherence to evidence-based best practices. Recommendations include:
- healthcare providers cleaning their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for every patient;
- catheters being used only when necessary and removed as soon as possible;
- cleaning the skin where the catheter is being inserted or the surgical site, and
- providers wearing hair covers, masks, gowns and gloves when appropriate.
Healthcare providers are making great strides to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, HAIs. In this section resources are identified and case study examples are highlighted to assist healthcare providers to improve the prevention of HAIs.
How can you Protect Yourself Against HAIs?
The CDC has released these example questions for patients to raise to their nurses and doctors to protect themselves from Healthcare-associated Infections.
CDC Checklist for Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs - March, 2014
The checklist (link below) is a companion to Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs. This checklist should be used to systematically assess key elements and actions to ensure optimal antibiotic prescribing and limit overuse and misuse of antibiotics in hospitals. CDC recommends that all hospitals implement an Antibiotic Stewardship Program.
Click here for checklist
CDC Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States - September, 2013
Antibiotics Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013 is a snapshot of the complex problem of antibiotic resistance today and the potentially catastrophic consequences of inaction. The overriding purpose of this report is to increase awareness of the threat that antibiotic resistance poses and to encourage immediate action to address the threat. This document can serve as a reference for anyone looking for information about antibiotic resistance. It is specifically designed to be accessible to many audiences.
CDC Releases Infection Prevention Guide to Promote Safe Outpatient Care - July 2011
According to recent findings, medical care in outpatient settings has surged in recent years, yet in many cases, adherence to standard infection prevention practices in outpatient settings is lacking. To protect patients and help educate clinicians about minimum expectations of safe care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new guide and checklist specifically for healthcare providers in outpatient care settings. The Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings: Minimum Expectations for Safe Care is based on existing, evidence-based CDC guidelines that apply to a wide range of healthcare facilities but are mostly used by hospitals.
CDC Releases IV Catheter Infection Prevention Guidelines - 2011
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the "Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter-Related Infections" that were developed for hospital, outpatient and home healthcare settings.
CDC - HAI Reduction and Implementation Tool Kits
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Public Law 111-5 (ARRA), was signed into law on February 17, 2009. Within the Recovery Act, $50 million was authorized to support states in the prevention and reduction of healthcare-associated infections. Many of these funds are being used to support activities outlined in the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections. This CDC site tracks states' efforts to meet the goals of the plan and the results can be located on the CDC Healthcare-Associated Infections: Recovery Act site. CDC is assisting states in this process with implementation tool kits located at Premier's Safety Institute's Healthcare-Associated Infection Web site.
- CLABSI (Catheter-related bloodstream infection)
- C.diff (Clostridium difficile infection)
- CAUTI (Catheter-related urinary tract infections)
- MRSA (Methicillin-resistant S. aureus)
- SSI (Surgical site infection