Healthcare-Acquired Infections

Healthcare-Acquired Infections (HAIs), sometimes called Healthcare-Associated Infections, are infections that you get while receiving treatment at a healthcare facility, like a hospital, or from a healthcare professional, like a doctor or nurse. Healthcare-Acquired Infections can get into your bloodstream, your lungs, your skin, your urinary tract or your digestive tract, making you very sick. These infections are also very hard to treat and can stay with you for a long time. In the worst cases these infections can also be deadly.

Types of Healthcare-Acquired Infections

  • Methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) can cause a bloodstream infection when germs enter your bloodstream through a catheter or medical tube inserted into your vein.
  • Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI) happen as a result of having a urinary catheter when you are in a healthcare facility or while receiving healthcare at home.
  • Surgical Site Infections (SSI)occur on or near your surgical wound. They can be simple skin infections, or they can get into the deeper tissues and organs near your wound.
  • Ventilator-associated Pneumonia (VAP) can occur when you are on a ventilator, a machine that helps you breathe through a tube in your mouth, nose or throat. Germs can get into your lungs through the tubes and make you sick.
  • Clostridium difficile Infections (CDIs), also referred to as C-diff,can give you diarrhea that lasts for a long time. Older people who take antibiotics and use medical services are most at risk for CDIs.
  • Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection. It is a life-threatening medical emergency. Sepsis happens when an infection you already have triggers a chain reaction throughout your body.

What Patients & Caregivers Should Do to Avoid Infection

  • Make sure to wash your hands or use liquid or gel hand sanitizer;
  • Make sure your medical providers wash their hands or use liquid or gel hand sanitizer before they care for you;
  • Ask your nurse or doctor whether hand washing or liquid or gel hand sanitizer is best to protect you, because liquid or gel hand sanitizers do not protect you from all types of infections;
  • Only take antibiotics when they are prescribed by a doctor;
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking antibiotics, and always finish the whole prescription;
  • If you are taking antibiotics or pain medication, ask your doctor or nurse if there are steps you can take to protect your digestive tract against side effects;
  • Know your rights as a patient.

What Hospitals & Residential Healthcare Facilities Should Do to Protect Patients

  • Ensure that all medical staff and visitors wash their hands or use liquid or gel hand sanitizer;
  • Keep open wounds clean, and change dressings at appropriate intervals;
  • Keep catheter and medical tube sites clean;
  • Make sure that patients who are sick when they come into the facility are kept separately from other patients;
  • Only prescribe antibiotics to patients who really need them, and make sure they take the whole prescription.
  • Practice good antimicrobial stewardship. more

What the Department of Health Does to Protect the Public

  • Perform inspections of residential healthcare facilities and hospitals;
  • Track infection outbreaks;
  • Monitor rates of infection in hospitals as part or our Healthcare Quality Measurement effort;