With the advent of technology, there has been an improvement in techniques and precautions used worldwide to avoid infections during hospitalization of a patient. However, it is not possible to avoid or eliminate hospital infections completely. An infection acquired after hospitalization of a patient is considered to be one of the most serious concerns throughout the medical history.
Infection is nothing but disease acquired by a healthy human being through any means (by touching an object or infected person, through inhaling air containing germs or bacteria of diseases, or through body fluid that contains such germs, viruses, parasites, or bacteria which cause disease in a healthy human being). Infections that occur in hospitals are known as Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI). They mainly involve infections of lungs, blood, skin, urinary tract, etc.
Who Can Acquire HAI?
Every patient who is admitted to the hospital stands a chance of acquiring such infections. People having weakened immune system (people suffering from immune system related disease such as AIDS or other diseases that weakens their immune system) are most vulnerable to such infections. Not only people who are admitted to hospital, but also those who visit hospitals are under the risk of acquiring infections in hospitals.
The other factors that contribute to such conditions are: longer stay of a patient in a hospital, use of unhygienic procedures and instruments during operation or any such treatment, improper use of medicines such as, over or under use of antibiotics which may lead to development of resistance to such medicines in bacteria, failure to maintain hygiene, etc.
What are the Most Common HAI?
It is very common for patients to pick infections of bloodstreams, pneumonia, lungs, wounds, etc., during their hospitalization. The following are few most commonly found infections in hospitals:
MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)
This is one of the most commonly spread infections during a person's stay in hospital. MRSA bacterium is found on the skin and other parts of body such as, nose of people. It finds its way into a person's body through a wound or cut and infects him/her. The MRSA bacterium has become resistant to most of the antibiotics which makes it very hard to treat infections caused by it.
Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE)
This bacterium infects patient's urinal tract, intestine, or bloodstreams. It enters the patient's body through wounds or cuts when he/she consumes meat or comes in contact with an animal carrying this bacterium and stays dormant till any antibiotic is used on the patient. This type of infection often occurs when a person is hospitalized.
Infection of ESBL-producing Bacteria
This bacterium spreads through feces of an infected person. Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamase are enzymes which are produced by bacteria, and they have the ability to speed up biochemical reactions in the body leading to medical complications. The worst thing about ESBL-producing bacteria is that they can pass the technique of ESBL production to other bacteria. The strains of these bacteria are rapidly becoming resistant to commonly used antibiotics. The infection of ESBL-producing bacteria is also among the most common HAIs.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It is one of the most common infections that occur during a hospital stay.
This is one of the most notorious pathogen which has developed resistance against most of the antibiotics used. It can cause endocarditis, gastrointestinal infections, and respiratory infections in patients.
Following are some precautionary measure that will help avoid HAIs. They are:
- Make sure that the hospital in which the patient is admitted follows strict hygiene policies, and the staff of the hospital understands and follows the same.
- Ensure that the equipment used during the treatment are sterilized properly, and the person who is treating the patient uses gloves and washes his/her hands before and after the inspection or treatment.
- Discuss with your doctor about the illnesses you are (patient) suffering from and your medical history which might help doctors in understanding and confirming on the treatment and take care of possible infection care.
- If anyone of the visitors is already suffering from any disease which can lead to infection in patients in the hospital, then he/she should be requested not to visit unless he/she is not contagious any more.
- Patients who are suffering from contagious diseases should be kept in isolation and necessary procedures should be followed in order to quarantine the diseases.
In most of the countries (including developed and developing), doctors and hospital staff are educated to avoid any kind of possibility of infection during hospitalization of a patient. However, it is also very important to make patients and people visiting hospitals aware of such situations and educate them to avoid such infections.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.