Healthcare-Associated Infections and Control Strategies

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Background: According to the WHO, HAI is an infection occurring in a patient during the process of care in a hospital or other healthcare facility which was not present or incubating at the time of admission. This includes infections appearing more than 48 hours after admission, those acquired in the hospital but appearing up to 30 days after discharge, occupational infections among staff as well as, neonatal infections acquired either at birth or during hospitalization. The triage of HAI includes susceptible hosts, the presence of pathogenic organisms in the healthcare environment, and an appropriate vehicle for the transfer of the pathogens. HAI is estimated to cause about 40% of all neonatal deaths depending on environmental factors and differences in clinical practices.  Generally, 16% of all hospitalized patients in developing countries are diagnosed with HAI. 

Predisposing factors: This includes; admission as an emergency, ICU admission, hospital stay longer than seven days, and invasive procedures.

Aetiology: Although all microorganisms are capable of causing HAI, few organisms are notorious in this regard such as Staphylococci (MRSA), Escherichia coli (ESBL), Klebsiella pneumoniae (ESBL strains), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Prevention: Hand washing, screening, and categorization of patients into cohorts. Transmission-based precautions, and Antibiotic stewardship are the common measures to mitigate HAI

Conclusion HAIs constitute a major barrier to the safety of patients and care providers in the healthcare space.  It is opined that hand and environmental hygiene, with antibiotic stewardship among other strategies when adequately practiced will help in minimizing HAIs and improve treatment outcomes.

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