Health care facilities – whether hospitals, nursing homes, or outpatient facilities – can be dangerous places. One risk is “hospital-associated illnesses,” also called "hospital-acquired illnesses." 1.7 million patients contract HAIs each year. In 2002, nearly 100,000 patients died from HAIs. The fatalities broke down as follows:
31,000 – bloodstream infections,
13,000 – urinary tract infections,
8,000 – surgical site infections, and
11,000 – infections of other sites.
Many HAIs are caused by breaches of infection control practices and procedures, unclean and non-sterile environmental surfaces, or ill employees.
Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) occurs in people who are on mechanical ventilation through an endotracheal or tracheostomy tube. VAP results when and infection floods the alveoli – small, air-filled sacs in the lung responsible for absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere. VAP is distinguished from other kinds of infectious pneumonia by the different types of microorganisms responsible, antibiotics used in treatment, methods of diagnosis, ultimate prognosis, and effective preventive measures. The organism associated with VAP is most often Pseudomonas.
Central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) are blood infections introduced by a central venous catheter, or tube placed in a large vein in a patient’s neck, chest, or groin to administer medication or fluids or to collect blood samples.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) afflict patients with indwelling urinary catheters, patients undergoing urological manipulations, long-stay elderly male patients and patients with debilitating diseases. The organisms responsible may originate from the patient’s own body or from a moist site in the hospital environment. Pathogens causing HAI UTIs tend to have a higher antibiotic resistance than simple UTIs.
Hospitals have sanitation protocols regarding uniforms, equipment sterilization, washing, and other preventative measures. Thorough hand washing and/or use of alcohol rubs by all medical personnel before and after each patient contact is one of the most effective ways to combat hospital associated infections. Careful use of antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, is vital.