What is a Hospital Acquired Infection? A Hospital Acquired Infection (aka nosocomial infection) refers to any disease-causing infection that favors and thrives in a hospital environment. Bacteria, viruses, and fungus all have potential to become HAIs. HAIs are particularly dangerous because patients in hospitals typically have compromised immune systems from either illness or medical treatments. Also, many types of hospital equipment bypass the body’s natural defenses to administer treatment. If an instrument such as an intubation tube, catheter, or needle is contaminated, the patient has a very high chance of being infected.
The Cost of HAIs The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are 2 million cases of HAI per year. Treatment costs for HAI in the US can reach $4.5 - 11 billion annually. Of these 2 million HAI cases, the CDC estimates 20,000 patients die from HAI complications.
Preventing HAIs HAIs arise when there is a lapse in infection control protocol in the hospital. Hospital staff can reduce costs, save lives, and prevent HAIs with the right combination of infection control supplies and procedures, including: Hand Hygiene Gloves Masks Safe Injection and Needle Practices Surface Disinfection
Hand Hygiene Hand hygiene is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent HAI. Contact transmission is the number one way HAIs spread. Optimum hand hygiene comes from properly disinfecting your hands at the appropriate times to disrupt the spread of HAI.
Hand Washing The CDC advises hospital staff to always disinfect hands: before patient contact after contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces (even if gloves are worn) before invasive procedures after removing gloves (gloves are not 100% preventative). To disinfect your hands, always use soap and water or hand sanitizer. Hands-free sanitizer dispensers are a quick way to disinfect and reduce the spread of infection.
Gloves Medical gloves have a three-fold advantage against HAIs when properly used: Gloves provide a protective barrier to prevent contamination when touching infectious substances and surfaces. Gloves minimize the chance that microorganisms on the hands will be transmitted to patients during patient-care procedures. After gloves have been in contact with a potentially infectious material or surface, they can be thrown away to eliminate the spread of infection.
Face Masks & Shields The face can both receive and spread infections, making face protection critical in a hospital. Germs can enter through the eyes, mouth, nose, and ears. The mouth and nose can spread infections via airborne transmission.
Safe Needle Practices When mishandled, needles can be a serious infection risk. To prevent this, needles and other sharps must be properly stored and disposed of. Always dispose of used sharps and needles in a needle-proof bio-hazard container immediately.
Surface Disinfection Even if you’ve minimized HAIs by using the previous tools and techniques, it’s still very important to practice surface disinfection. Patients, visitors, or lapses in disinfection procedures can quickly and easily cross-contaminate multiple surfaces throughout a hospital. Clostridium difficile (aka, C.diff) is a common, and dangerous HAI. MarketLab’s EPA-registered Fresh Mix Bleach Solution kills C.diff spores in four seconds – the one of the fastest times available!
Stay Informed Lastly, you should stay up to date on disinfection practices and procedures. The CDC website has the most up-to-date protocols for HAI prevention. Stay informed to stay safe!
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