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What’s a hospital-acquired infection?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a significant concern in healthcare settings. These infections are acquired by patients while receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare facility. 

HAIs can manifest anywhere from 48 hours after hospital admission to 30 days after discharge. This indicates that they weren’t present or incubating at the time of the patient’s admission. HAIs encompass a variety of infections. Some of the most common are surgical site infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and bloodstream infections.

Reasons HAIs occur

Factors such as the misuse or overuse of antibiotics, which leads to resistant bacteria, are problematic. Inadequate sterilization of medical equipment or poor hygiene practices among staff can also significantly contribute to the incidence of HAIs. These infections can lead to extended hospital stays and additional treatments.

Prevention and control measures for HAIs

Infection control practices are at the forefront of preventing HAIs and include hand hygiene, using personal protective equipment, and adhering to sterilization protocols for all medical instruments and environments. Regular hand washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can dramatically reduce the transmission of infectious agents.

While the onus isn’t on the patients in the hospital, they can help prevent HAIs by limiting access to their hospital room to only people who have thoroughly washed their hands. Other personal protective equipment, such as masks, can also provide an effective prevention method. 

Patients who suffer from an HAI due to the negligence of a hospital employee may opt to pursue a compensation claim. This type of medical malpractice lawsuit can be difficult to put together, so it’s beneficial for victims to work with someone familiar with these matters.