Common Causes of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), also referred to as nosocomial infections, occur frequently. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 1.4 million people around the world are suffering from an HAI at any one time. In the United States, roughly 9.2 out of every 100 patients acquire a nosocomial infection, according to Healthline. Some HAIs can be quite serious and potentially life-threatening.

“Many of these infections are preventable. Efforts are under way to expand surveillance and to identify and implement effective prevention programs,” explains the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP).

Common Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Urinary tract infections associated with catheters are the most common type of HAI. Below are additional types of HAIs patients commonly contract.

  • Surgical wound infections
  • Bloodstream infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Genitourinary infections
  • Gastrointestinal infections (Gastroenteritis is the most common nosocomial infection in children.)
  • Skin and soft tissue infections, such as open sores (which can grow and lead to systemic infection)
  • Sinusitis
  • Endometriosis and other reproductive organ infections following childbirth

HAIs: Causes and Risk Factors

A lot of factors come into play relative to patients contracting HAIs. There might be environmental factors, the patient may be more prone to infection, and there might be bacterial resistance because of the industry’s overuse of antimicrobials.

Other factors that can influence the development of HAIs are listed below.

  • Contaminated instruments, objects, and substances
  • Poor use or maintenance of catheters and ventilators
  • Patient/health care worker contact
  • Contaminated air conditioning systems
  • Understaffing
  • Congested hospitals (beds in close proximity to one other)
  • Improper sterilization and disinfection practices
  • Reusing syringes and needles

 

“Most infections acquired in hospitals today are caused by microorganisms which are common in the general population, in whom they cause no or milder disease

than among hospital patients (Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci, enterococci, Enterobacteriaceae),” according to the World Health Organization.

The Importance of Addressing HAIs

The above statistics justify additional prevention measures in the healthcare setting. Other rising factors make the issue all the more pressing.

  • HAIs significantly contribute to morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • A rising number of patients may have compromised immunity (rising population of youth and older adults).
  • There are new microorganisms being discovered daily.
  • Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is becoming a serious concern.

 

The ODPHP has issued a plan, National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections: Roadmap to Elimination, to help reduce the instances of HAI. Many target dates of the plan, however, aren’t until 2020.

When the Medical Professionals are at Fault

Hospital and medical staff non-compliance with best HAI prevention practices are a major contributing factor to the high number of instances each year. If a healthcare worker or facility is at fault for a patient contracting an HAI, the patient may have grounds to sue for damages.

If you acquired an infection from a hospital or other healthcare setting, you might be entitled to compensation. You’ll want to discuss your case with a medical practice attorney to determine you eligibility and legal options. For legal counsel in Florida, you are invited to call our medical malpractice attorneys at Chalik & Chalik. Contact us today for a free consultation at 855-529-0269.