Oct 13, 2015

Nosocomial Infections: Important Facts to Know

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Nosocomial infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are “infections  acquired in hospital by a patient who was admitted for a reason other than that infection.”These infections are otherwise known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). HAIs can happen during a patient’s hospitalization or after discharge. Organisms from HAIs can also affect healthcare personnel and visitors.

HAIs are dangerous. Based on the 2011 U.S. CDC HAI prevalence survey, they found:

On any given day, 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least 1 HAI

An estimated 722,000 HAIs occurred in U.S. acute care hospitals in 2011

75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalization

Using the 2011 Data, the U.S. CDC Estimates of HAIs Occurring in Acute Care Hospitals in the United States

Major Site of Infection                                                Estimated Number of Infections

Surgical site infections from any inpatient surgery                  157,500

Pneumonia                                                                         157,500

Gastrointestinal Illness                                                        123,100

Urinary Tract Infections                                                         93,300

Primary Bloodstream Infections                                             71,900

Other types of infections                                                       18,500

Estimated total number of infections in hospitals            721,800

Important facts about nosocomial infections

  • Surgical site infections (SSIs) and pneumonia are tied as the number one type of HAI.
  • Surgical site infections on average can add 7-10 postoperative hospital days.1
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia can be spread from bacteria on hands that is transferred to ventilator equipment.
  • 77% of reusable ECG leadwires were found to be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant nosocomial pathogens even after being cleaned.2
  • The greatest risk factor for developing a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is prolonged use of a urinary catheter.
  • About 37,000 central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) happen each year to kidney dialysis patients with central lines.

The U.S. CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is an initiative to track and monitor HAI rates and prevention progress. The January 2015 National and State Healthcare-associated Infections Progress Report (based on 2013 data) gives national and state-by-state information for HAIs. The update shows significant progress, but more work around patient safety and infection prevention is needed. This helpful CDC infographic, 6 Ways to Be a Safe Patient, will help patients better understand what they can do to protect themselves from infection.

For more information about diseases and organisms that can be found in healthcare facilities, visit the US CDC definition and information page.

1 Anderson DJ, et al. Strategies to prevent surgical site infections in acute care hospitals. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2008;29:S51-S61
2 Jancin, Bruce. Antibiotic-resistant pathogens found on 77% of ECG lead wires. Cardiology News. 2004;2(3):14.

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