What is an HAI?
Health care-associated infections, or HAIs, are infections that patients receive while in the care of a health care environment, that was neither present nor developing when original treatment began. HAIs can be caused by a number of bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites and are the most common form of preventable hospital complication, affecting millions each year.
How do HAIs affect patients?
The CDCs health care-associated infection (HAI) prevalence survey provides an updated national estimate of the overall problem of HAIs in U.S. hospitals. Based on a large sample of U.S. acute care hospitals, the survey found that on any given day, about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one health care-associated infection. In 2011, about 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. More than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit.
How HAIs spread
Young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for contracting an HAI; however, other risks include long hospital stays, unsanitary conditions and overuse of antibiotics. Washing hands, cleaning all surfaces and sterilizing instruments are the best practices to preventing these infections.