Spending time in a hospital, nursing home or any type of healthcare facility puts patients at risk for healthcare-acquired infections, or HAIs. Also known as nosocomial infections and hospital-associated infections, HAIs are a major cause of global morbidity and mortality. They are defined as an infection — a disease caused by micro-organisms — that patients acquire when receiving care in a healthcare facility.
In the Unites States, the rates of HAIs are closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2021, the CDC estimated 687,000 HAIs were reported in acute care hospitals. Furthermore, roughly 72,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalization that year.
There are many types of HAIs. The most frequently reported include catheter-associated urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and central line-associated bloodstream infections. The most common cause of HAIs is the introduction of certain bacterial strains, including C. difficile, MRSA, Enterococcus and various Pseudomonas species.
For more on HAIs and the importance of proper cleaning practices, continue reading below.