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What are healthcare-associated infections and why do they occur?

What are healthcare-associated infections and why do they occur?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Firm News

The usual reasons for attending hospital are because of a serious illness, for accidents and emergencies or for a scheduled surgical procedure.

The thing each of these has in common is that you expect to leave the hospital feeling better than when you got there. Unfortunately, many people find themselves picking up infections when they’re in hospital which has the potential to be more serious than the initial reason for the visit.

What is a healthcare-associated infection?

Sometimes alternatively known as hospital-acquired infections, HAIs are illnesses that you pick up while you’re in the hospital. They are not, ordinarily, illnesses people have when they first attend. They usually occur as a result of the spread of viruses or bacteria. Common types of HAI include surgical site infections, pneumonia, sepsis and urinary tract infections.

Why do HAIs happen?

Some of the reasons that patients pick up HAIs include:

  • Negligence of hospital staff – there is a reason why hospital staff are expected to routinely wash their hands and follow strict cleaning procedures. A failure to follow these procedures (such as hand washing and bed cleaning) can easily lead to the spread of germs and infection between patients.

  • Contaminated instruments and equipment – using dirty equipment such as reusing needles can be a big cause of infection.

  • Hospital overcrowding – being in a facility that is too busy and congested can mean that bacteria and viruses spread much quicker and more easily.

  • Understaffing – where a facility does not have the right number of staff it needs, patients can find themselves neglected and not receiving the attention they need. This means that infections that could have been picked up sooner turn into something more serious.

A healthcare-associated infection can cause serious illness and have devastating consequences. Where the transmission of the infection could have been prevented, there’s the potential for a medical malpractice claim.