Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI)

A hospital-acquired infection is usually one that first appears three days after a patient is admitted to a hospital or other health care facility. Infections acquired in a hospital are also called nosocomial infections.

About 5-10% of patients admitted to hospitals in the United States develop a nosocomial infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than two million patients develop hospital-acquired infections in the United States each year. About 90,000 of these patients die as a result of their infections. Hospital-acquired infections usually are related to a procedure or treatment used to diagnose or treat the patient's illness or injury. About 25% of these infections can be prevented by healthcare workers taking proper precautions when caring for patients.

Hospital-acquired infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. These microorganisms may already be present in the patient's body or may come from the environment, contaminated hospital equipment, health care workers, or other patients. Depending on the causal agents involved, an infection may start in any part of the body. Hospital-acquired infections may develop from surgical procedures, catheters placed in the urinary tract or blood vessels, or from material from the nose or mouth that is inhaled into the lungs.

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