When you go into a hospital for treatment, you don't expect to end up sicker than you started. Unfortunately, that happens to far, far too many patients thanks to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every thirty-one patients in the nation's hospitals falls victim to one or more hospital-acquired infections. Despite constant efforts to improve the situation for patients, these preventable infections are still common.
Here are some facts about hospital-acquired infections that every patient should know.
What kinds of HAIs are common?
There are several different types of common hospital-acquired infections. They include:
While most HAIs can be broken down into these types, it's much harder to identify the types of germs that are in those infections. Some of the most common organisms that cause HAIs include Norovirus, Staphylococcus aureus, tuberculosis, hepatitis, influenza, Candida auris (a type of yeast), and HIV—although there are many others. In fact, around 80 percent of all HAIs are caused by a bacteria most people have never heard of before: Acinetobacter baumannii.
Since Acinetobacter-baumannii infections usually do not occur outside of a hospital setting, patients should always recognize that they have been the victim of medical malpractice if they fall victim to this particular bacteria.
What are the symptoms of HAIs?
While there are numerous possibilities, some of the most common symptoms of an HAI include:
HAIs can occur several days after you are admitted or even several days after you are discharged and sent home to recuperate. It's critical to remember that infections are never "normal" in healthcare.
How can HAIs be prevented?
HAIs can be prevented almost entirely if healthcare providers commit to following important safety procedures regarding sanitation. These include:
That last task is one of the most critical–and the least well-observed. According to the CDC, healthcare providers wash their hands less than half the time they should despite the clear knowledge that this is essential to patient safety.
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