Hospital Aquired Infection an Urgent and Complex Problem

Mehul Pandya – Regional Director HealthCare MEA, Ecolab

A nosocomial infection — also called “hospital acquired infection” (HAI) can be defined as: ”An infection acquired in a hospital by a patient who was admitted for a reason other than that infection” (1) or “An infection occurring in a patient in a hospital or other health care facility in whom the infection was not present or incubating at the time of admission. This includes infections acquired in the hospital but appearing after discharge, and also occupational infections among staff of the facility” (2).

Despite the progress in public health and hospital care, despite the progress of medical technologies, infections continue to develop in hospitalized patients all over the world and may also affect the hospital staff. Among the most frequent HAI we find: the urinary tract infection, surgical wounds, and lower respiratory tract infections, with the highest occurrence in intensive care units and in acute surgical and orthopedic wards. (3) And they are significant burden both for the patient and health care systems.

For the patients, HAIs add to functional disability and emotional stress and may, in some cases, lead to disabling conditions that reduce the quality of life (3). Nosocomial infections are also one of the leading causes of death (4). In Europe, for example, HAIs affects more than 4 million patients annually; they are directly responsible for more than 37,000 deaths and contribute to a further 100,000 deaths (5).

The economic costs of HAIs are also considerable .The extra-hospitalization days not only increase direct cost for patients or payers but also indirect cost for the hospitals due to the lost work. In addition to this, extra medication, additional lab tests and other diagnostics have a significant contribution to cost increase as well as the challenge of resources allocation by diverting people and funds to the management of potentially preventable situation (3). Only in Europe, HAIs account for financial loss of around 7 billion EUR in direct costs only and cause more than 16 million extra-hospitalization days, while worldwide the total costs are estimated to be around 20 billion USD (5,6).

Among the factors contributing to the development of HAIs the most important were identified to be the microbial agents existing in healthcare facilities, the patient conditions (age, medical status, chronic conditions, etc.) and the environmental conditions (other patients, frequent transfers from a unit to another, cleaning conditions etc.) (3). Recent studies however revealed that among the causes of HAIs most often they refer also to: gaps in training and education of healthcare workers, lack of policies and programs on patient safety, gaps in reporting incidents and learning systems, gaps in patient education (7).

Prevention of nosocomial infections is responsibility of all individuals involved in providing healthcare services. Everyone must work together to reduce the risk of infection for patients and staff. This includes: personnel providing direct patient care, management, cleaning and maintenance staff, procurement (materials and products) and trainers. Infection control programs should be implemented at all hospital levels. They should be effective and comprehensive and include surveillance, prevention and staff training activities and they should be supported by regional and national programs.

At Ecolab, we are dedicated to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier. We are committed to offer to our healthcare customers the most comprehensive range of Infection Prevention programs, combining exceptional technology with premier service and actionable information in key areas of hand hygiene, environmental hygiene, instrument reprocessing and surgical barriers that deliver proven results. We work in close partnership with our customers to maximize staff productivity, deliver best practice training to improve staff and patient satisfaction, proactively reduce risk of HAIs and lower operational costs by reducing waste, water and energy consumption.

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