Health Care-Associated Infections (HAIs) affect > 2 million patients and contributes to 88,000 deaths annually in the US. The estimated yearly financial impact is at least $4.5 billion. Efforts to lower infection risks include raising awareness of HAI among hospital staff and ensuring adherence to guidelines for prevention and control. For example, hand hygiene among the health care workers alone can go a long way in bringing down HAIs. Kimberly-Clark, a global leader in health care products, has launched a unique campaign to educate health care workers on HAI prevention called “Not on My Watch”. I was contacted by Barbara Dunn from Kimberly-Clark to share this on my blog. Here’s the link to the website of their campaign, a great source of tools and information to help eliminate HAI.
Hospital-acquired infections or nosocomial infections are those which were neither present nor incubating at the time of admission.
The nosocomial pathogens have reservoirs and sources in inanimate environment like contaminated tap water as also the animate environment e.g. infected or carrier health care workers, patients and hospital visitors. Sometimes, contaminated supplies can be a common source of spread.
These pathogens can get transmitted through cross-infection usually i.e. from one patient to another spreading most often on the inadequately cleaned hands of health workers. Autoinoculation is another important route where the patient’s own flora is transmitted by invasive devices e.g. aspiration of oropharyngeal flora into the lung along an endotracheal tube. Infection also spreads via airborne droplets released by sneezing and coughing.
The growing number of immunosuppressed patients, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, fungal and viral superinfections, and invasive devices and procedures have only made the HAI situation worse. A quick look at some major nosocomial infections:
- Urinary Tract Infections Pathogens spread via catheter, or from the patient’s perineum or gastrointestinal tract especially in women.
- Pneumonia Nosocomial pneumonias occur following aspiration of endogenous or hospital-acquired oropharyngeal flora, of which the most fatal is ventilator-associated pneumonia.
- Surgical Wound Infections Age, underlying diseases (e.g. diabetes mellitus, obesity), surgeon’s technical skill, and inappropriate timing of prophylactic antibiotics are all responsible.
- Infections Related to Vascular Access and Monitoring Intravascular devices are common causes of local site infection, most importantly central vascular catheter (CVCs).
To understand what the “Not on My Watch” campaign is all about, let’s watch this short video.