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Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI)

What is an HAI?

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions. HAIs occur in all settings of care, including acute care within hospitals and same day surgical centers, ambulatory outpatient care in healthcare clinics, and in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. The frequency of HAIs varies by location.

HAIs are associated with a variety of causes, including (but not limited to):

  • The use of medical devices, such as catheters and ventilators
  • Complications following a surgical procedure
  • Transmission between patients and healthcare workers
  • The result of antibiotic overuse

Four categories of infections account for approximately three quarters of HAIs in the acute care hospital setting:

  1. Surgical site infections
  2. Central line-associated bloodstream infections
  3. Ventilator-associated pneumonia
  4. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections

In addition, infections associated with Clostridium difficile, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other multi-drug resistant organisms also contribute significantly to the overall problem. The frequency of HAIs varies by location.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urinary tract infections comprise the highest percentage (34%) of HAIs followed by surgical site infections (17%), bloodstream infections (14%), and pneumonia (13%).

In addition to the substantial human suffering exacted by HAIs the financial burden attributable to these infections is staggering. According to the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality HAIs incur an estimated $28 to $33 billion in excess healthcare costs each year.

National Get Smart About Antibiotics Campaign - click here for more information and materials.


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