Healthcare Associated Infections


Healthcare-associated infections are infections that patients acquire during the course of receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare setting. *Note* This shows the potential confusion in locating where exactly the pathogen was acquired. Patients may be exposed to potential pathogens outside of the healthcare setting before receiving healthcare, or may develop infections caused by those pathogens when exposed to the conditions associated with delivery of healthcare.

Risk factors

These are some of the factors that promote HAIs in the healthcare setting: decreased immunity among patients, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, invasive techniques, and medical devices that increase the risk of infections for patients. For example, patients have an increased potential of infection from the more invasive devices such as intravenous needles or cannulae.

Major types of infection

The four major types of HAIs are related to invasive or surgical procedures:
  • Surgical site infection (SSI)
  • Central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLA-BSI)
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CA-UTI)
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)

The Problem

*Important Statistics*

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated the burden of U.S. HAIs in 2002 as 1.7 million infections in hospitals (9.3 infections per 1000 patient days or 4.5 per 100 admissions) noting that more than 98,000 of these patients die (1). It is also estimated that the U.S. spends $4.5 billion to $5.7 billion annually on the treatment of HAIs. (1, 2)

What is the solution?

The reduction of HAIs is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Related Information

  1. Continuing Education on HAIs: Roadmap for HAI Prevention Research
  2. Healthcare-Associated Infections: Recovery Act
  3. Estimates of Healthcare-Associated Infections

Web Resources & Citations

  1. (1) Klevens, R.M. "Estimating health care-associated infections and deaths in U.S. hospitals, 2002." Public Health Reports March-April 2007:22; 160-66.
  2. (2) Stone PW. "A systematic audit of economic evidence linking nosocomial infections and infection control interventions: 1990-2000." Am J Infect Control 2002; 30:145-52. (doc) (31kb)