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Nosocomial Infections


What are Nosocomial Infections?

The phrase Nosocomial Infections refers to healthcare associated infections such as those acquired at a physician's office or hospital. The occurrence of Nosocomial Infections has risen throughout history for a variety of factors including hygiene, over-prescription of antibiotics, and more dangerous pathogens. The CDC estimates that each year 2 million patients are affected by Nosocomial Infections of which 88,000 die.

Causes of Nosocomial Infections

Over the last 2 decades, there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of individuals that become afflicted with Nosocomial Infections. This increase has been attributed to a number of factors, as previously discussed, including drug resistance and more dangerous pathogens. Changes in disease management have also affected the prevalence of healthcare-related infections as care settings have changed. Many patients are receiving treatment at home or in outpatient facilities leaving a larger percentage of significantly ill patients in the hospital. These persons are at greater risk of becoming infected. Additionally, changes in long term care have encouraged more transport and location changes resulting in transfer of infection with them to other facilities. Recent years have seen a major refocus of preventative screenings and hygiene methods for effective infection control.

What are the most common Nosocomial Infections?

The most frequently occurring Nosocomial Infections are urinary tract infections, lower respiratory tract infections, surgical site infections, and bloodstream infections. Much of the transmission is care-related and can be prevented through effective patient monitoring and infection control methods. Often, these infections come about as a result of catheter and tube changes and wound management practices.

Preventing Nosocomial Infections

Standard precautions are being implemented and regulated for preventing Nosocomial Infections including airborne, droplet, and contact precautions, in addition to sterilization and hygiene practices. There has been an increase in the prevalence of respirator masks, safety glasses, and infection control coverings, such as hospital gowns, to minimize risk. To date, the most effective methods for preventing Nosocomial Infections are thorough patient monitoring,  documentation, effective hand washing and hygiene standards.

According to the CDC, Nosocomial Infections result in costs approaching $5 billion yearly. Minimize your contribution to this number by maintaining high standards for hygiene, sanitation, and protective equipment.

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