They’re more prevalent than you may think!
A hospital acquired infection, also known as nosocomial infections is an infection acquired during hospital care which was not present at the time of admission. Infections which occur 48 hours after admission are considered nosocomial. The infection can come from the outside environment, an infected person in hospital or health care staff that may be infected. Anyone can contract an infection and it is difficult to identify the source of infection since it can come from a plethora of factors.
The infections are caused by various types of bacteria, fungi and viruses with bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus) which infects the blood and Escherichia coli (E. coli) which infects the urinary tract being the most prevalent source.
With every 100 hospitalized patients, 10 will acquire an infection in the developing world while that number drops to 7 in the developed world.
Hospital acquired infection may be transmitted by direct contact or indirect contact. Direct contact is physical touching of the infected person. The second method of transmission is indirect contact which includes bedding, clothing, toys and surgical instruments. Part of the reason hospital acquired infections are very difficult to control and prevent is because they are spread through various mediums.
Those who are most susceptible to contracting hospital acquired infections are patients who are immunocompromised i.e. those who have had surgery or are a burn victim you have an increased risk. Premature babies, sick children, the elderly (especially older than 70 years), those with medical conditions such as diabetes, people with defective immunity and people with diseases that compromise their immune system further or people who are being treated with chemotherapy, steroids or other drugs are at increased risk.
As with most medical matters, prevention is better than cure. There is no way to eliminate nosocomial infections but there are guide lines which help reduce incidents of infection.
- Cleaning surfaces aseptically
- The rooms in hospitals must always have proper ventilation and closed drainage systems.
- Always wash your hands with a disinfectant
Symptoms of hospital acquired infections will vary by type. The most common types of HAIs are urinary tract infections (urinary tract infections), surgical site infections, gastroenteritis, meningitis, pneumonia.The symptoms for these infections may include discharge from a wound, fever, cough, shortness of breathing, burning with urination or difficulty urinating, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.
The exact type of treatment will depend on the type of pathogen and severity of the infection.
- Antifungal treatment
- Antiviral medications
In conclusion, hospital acquired infections are a serious and yet simultaneously unavoidable health care concern affecting both patients and health care professionals alike. It is therefore imperative to be aware of this and take as many precautions and preventative measures to decrease the risk and spread of infection.
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