Hospital-acquired infections, also called nosocomial infections, are illnesses patients get while getting treatment in a healthcare facility. Various bacteria, viruses, fungi or other harmful germs can cause these infections and can lead to serious problems for patients who are already sick or injured.
Hospital staff can also contract HAIs while working in healthcare facilities.
Different kinds of HAIs
There are several types of infections that can happen in hospitals, like surgical site infections, urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, pneumonia and infections in the digestive system. Each type of infection can cause its own difficulties and issues for patients and healthcare providers.
HAIs can come from different sources within the hospital environment. One common reason is when healthcare workers fail to clean their hands properly, which can spread germs from one patient to another. Also, medical equipment like catheters, ventilators and surgical tools can spread infections if they are not cleaned well between uses.
Other things in the hospital, like not having good ventilation or having too many patients in one room, can also help germs spread. Patients with weak immune systems, like those who are getting chemotherapy or organ transplants, are more likely to get HAIs because their bodies can not fight off infections as well.
Following infection control rules, washing hands well, using antibiotics the right way and cleaning the hospital environment can help prevent HAIs. Hospitals need to have good infection control programs to lower the risks and keep patients and workers safe.
Healthcare professional risks
Due to frequent exposure to patients, medical equipment and contaminated surfaces, healthcare workers are at risk of acquiring infections such as MRSA, influenza and tuberculosis. Proper infection control measures, including hand hygiene, personal protective equipment and vaccination, help mitigate the risk of HAIs among hospital staff.
Hospital-acquired infections can potentially serve as grounds for legal action if negligence or malpractice contributed to their occurrence. Patients who suffer harm or complications due to preventable HAIs may seek legal recourse to hold healthcare providers or facilities accountable for inadequate infection control measures or substandard care.
Hospital-acquired infections are a big problem for patient and healthcare worker safety. If an HAI affects you or a family member, you may have legal options for compensation.