If you are receiving treatment at a healthcare facility for a medical or surgical condition, you are at risk for contracting a healthcare-associated infection (HAIs). HAIs are one of the primary causes of preventable death in the United States.
Although HAIs are the most common complication resulting from hospital care, recent studies suggest that effective prevention practices are in place; the key is to make sure that practices are being implemented. If current procedures were followed, medical costs could be reduced by $25 billion to $31.5 billion—not to mention the savings in human lives.
Facts about HAIs
According to HealthyPeople.gov, people are exposed to HAIs in a number of healthcare settings, including the following:
- Hospital acute-care units
- Same-day surgery centers
- Ambulatory outpatient care sections of clinics
- Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers
Nearly three-quarters of all HAIs in an acute hospital setting are the result of one of these types of infection, listed in decreasing order of occurrence:
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Surgical site infections
- Bloodstream infections
Certain factors increase the likelihood of contracting an HAI:
- Treatment at a healthcare facility while taking antibiotics
- Substandard use and maintenance of medical supplies, such as catheters and ventilators
- Reuse of syringes and needles
- Using single-use medication vials for more than one patient
- High nurse–patient ratio
- Unsatisfactory hand washing and other hygiene practices by medical staff
- Contaminated air conditioning systems
- Placement of patient beds too close to each other
- Post-surgery complications
Ways to Reduce HAIs
Much of the effort to establish and implement effective HAI-prevention programs occurs in acute-care facilities. More and more types of medical treatment, however, are now performed in outpatient settings, such as ambulatory surgical centers, end-stage renal disease facilities, and long-term care facilities. These settings, unfortunately, provide less stringent oversight and implementation of infection-control systems.
In 2008, clinicians, scientists, and public health leaders from a number of US government agencies came together to form a Steering Committee for the Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections. The committee developed the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections. Phase I, which focused on the most common infections in acute-care inpatient settings, was released in 2009. Phase II soon followed; it included outpatient settings and healthcare professionals’ roles in preventing HAIs.
Such efforts raise awareness and lead to improved training in and practice of infection control. When healthcare workers are properly educated and trained in the best practices to minimize the spread of infection, HAI occurrence drops.
If your loved one died a preventable death in a Louisville hospital, you should file a Kentucky wrongful death claim. Call Gray and White Law in Louisville at 502-210-8942 or toll-free at 888-450-4456. We’ll set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.