Definition

What is a nosocomial infection?

A nosocomial infection is contracted because of an infection or toxin that exists in a certain location, such as a hospital. People now use nosocomial infections interchangeably with the terms health-care associated infections (HAIs) and hospital-acquired infections. For a HAI, the infection must not be present before someone has been under medical care.

One of the most common wards where HAIs occur is the intensive care unit (ICU), where doctors treat serious diseases.

How common is a HAI?

Health-care associated infections (HAIs) is common. About 1 in 10 of the people admitted to a hospital will contract a HAI. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of a HAI?

For a HAI, the infection must occur:

  • Up to 48 hours after hospital admission
  • Up to 3 days after discharge
  • Up to 30 days after an operation
  • In a healthcare facility when someone was admitted for reasons other than the infection

Symptoms of HAIs will vary by type. The most common types of HAIs are:

The symptoms for these infections may include:

  • Discharge from a wound
  • Fever
  • Cough, shortness of breathing
  • Burning with urination or difficulty urinating
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

People who develop new symptoms during their stay may also experience pain and irritation at the infection site. Many will experience visible symptoms.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes a HAI?

Bacteria, fungus, and viruses can cause HAIs. Bacteria alone cause about 90 percent of these cases. Many people have compromised immune systems during their hospital stay, so they’re more likely to contract an infection. Some of the common bacteria that are responsible for HAIs are:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which causes blood infection
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)which causes UTI
  • Enterococciwhich causes UTI, blood and wound infection
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa)which causes UTI and infections of the kidneys and respiratory system

Of the HAIs, P. aeruginosa accounts for 11 percent and has a high mortality and morbidity rate.

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses spread mainly through person-to-person contact. This includes unclean hands, and medical instruments such as catheters, respiratory machines, and other hospital tools. HAI cases also increase when there’s excessive and improper use of antibiotics. This can lead to bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for a HAI?

Anyone admitted to a healthcare facility is at risk for contracting a HAI. For some bacteria, your risks may also depend on:

  • Your hospital roommate
  • Age, especially if you’re more than 70 years old
  • How long you’ve been using antibiotics
  • Whether or not you have a urinary catheter
  • Prolonged icu stay
  • If you’ve been in a coma
  • If you’ve experienced shock
  • Any trauma you’ve experienced
  • Your compromised immune system

Your risk also increases if you’re admitted to the ICU. The chance of contracting a HAI in pediatric ICUs is 6.1- 29.6%. A study found that nearly 11 percent of roughly 300 people who underwent operations contracted a HAI. Contaminated areas can increase your risk for HAIs by almost 10 percent.

HAIs are also more common in developing countries. Studies show that five to 10 percent of hospitalizations in Europe and North America result in HAIs. In areas such as Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia, it’s more than 40 percent.Please consult with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is a HAI diagnosed?

Many doctors can diagnose a HAI by sight and symptoms alone. Inflammation and/or a rash at the site of infection can also be an indication. Infections prior to your stay that become complicated don’t count as HAIs. But you should still tell your doctor if any new symptoms appear during your stay.

You also may be required to talk a blood and urine test as to identify the infection.

How is a HAI treated?

Treatments for these infections depend on the infection type. Your doctor will likely recommend antibiotics and bed rest. Also, they’ll remove any foreign devices such as catheters as soon as medically appropriate.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage a HAI?

A healthy diet, fluid intake, and rest are important in speeding up the natural healing process and preventing dehydration.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: March 7, 2018 | Last Modified: March 7, 2018

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