While hospitals are a place to make patients feel better, they also run the risk of contamination and infection among patients. Healthcare-related infections are prevalent in hospitals and may prove to be a menace. They include a range of infections that may be acquired due to compromised conditions in hospital settings.
Also referred to as nosocomial infections, they may be responsible for deteriorating the health of an already-ill patient and thus need to be well-prevented and tackled. Most of these infections are caused by bacteria, but other microorganisms like fungi or viruses may also be responsible.
In countries with less income, the rate of spread of HAIs is relatively high. According to a study, developing countries worldwide are at an increased risk of HAIs due to the unavailability of proper hygienic conditions. Lack of sterile equipment, crowdedness, and poor resource management are among some of the factors that can lead to the spread of HAIs. Hygienic practices thus lie at the core of preventing and avoiding the spread of HAIs or healthcare-associated infections.
In this article, we look at some broad categories of HAIs with information on how they can be prevented.
Clabsi stands for central-line-associated bloodstream infections. It is one of the most typical forms of HAIs that affects a large population. A central line catheter supplies fluid to some large vein in the body and can be a cause of infections. These infections may cause anything from skin irritation to severe illness. Clabsi is especially harmful to children with cancer.
CLABSI and any other HAIs may be prevented by maintaining hygienic operational environments and practicing hand hygiene. Hospitals and health institutions can use hand hygiene audit tools to ensure that proper hygiene protocols are being followed in their organization. Apart from this, the patient site must be kept clean and germ-free through disinfectants and cleaners. In addition, bad linens must be changed, and mouth hygiene for patients must also be paid attention to.
Urinary catheters commonly used in hospitals may result in CAUTI without adequate hygiene procedures in protocols. Germs entering through the catheter can be responsible for causing UTIs, and the infections may affect organs like the urethra, bladder, or kidneys.
Like other HAIs, CAUTIs can be prevented through hygienic practices such as not touching the catheter without cleaned hands. In addition, the skin and areas around the catheter must be sufficiently cleaned, and the drainage bag must be kept at a safe distance from the patient. Noticeable symptoms of CAUTIs include cloudy urine, painful urination, chills, fevers, and pain in the abdomen.
Surgical site infections, as the name suggests, accompany a surgical procedure. These may be localized to the skin or may infect tissues and organs if deeper. They occur when bacteria enter the body through a surgical wound and cause contamination. SSIs also show typical symptoms of other infections such as redness, fever, pus or pain.
Having diseases like cancer, diabetes, or a weakened immune system puts one at a greater risk for surgical site conditions. Therefore, one must ensure that the doctor knows about any conditions before one undergoes any surgery. On the other hand, the surgeon’s responsibility is to ensure their instruments are sterilized and chances of wounding are minimized.
SSIs may be treated using antibiotics or require further surgery; thus, hygienic environments are a must.
Pneumonia is a common condition that may develop in hospitals due to contamination or because the patient is on a ventilator. Hospital-acquired pneumonia develops within two days of hospital admission and may even be life-threatening if left unmonitored. The rate of HAP is around 5 to 10 per 1000 hospital admissions. Therefore, patients with immunological conditions need to be specially monitored for such conditions.
Apart from these infections, other infections can spread in healthcare spaces like hospitals or nursing homes. Inadequate hygiene and improper ventilation can even put healthy people at risk of diseases such as TB, pneumonia, etc., among others. An improper blood transfusion may also put one at risk of many illnesses, including dangerous infections such as HIV AIDS.
Regular washing of hands by all healthcare professionals is a simple yet powerful step to prevent infections within hospital premises. The use of infection control assessment checks and following protocols recommended by the CDC are the other essential steps hospitals must abide by to reduce the risk of HAIs.