People going into the hospital or an outpatient surgical center are expected to become healthier due to their treatment; not to come down with additional health issues. Unfortunately, statistics show that even with all of today’s modern technology, four major types of infections are still spread through routine healthcare processes at an astounding rate. Hospitals and medical device companies are continually trying to modify and invent with new ways to reduce the incidence of these healthcare-associated infections. This article will highlight the most common types of infections in the medical field.
1. Urinary tract infections: The most common type of HAI is a urinary tract infection, typically associated with the use of a urinary catheter. The insertion of the catheter can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract and cause an infection. Medical personnel need to ensure that the catheter itself is sterile and that it passes through an entirely sterile environment to avoid introducing harmful bacteria.
2. Surgical site infections: Even if a surgery is completely successful at fixing the problem it was designed to fix, it can cause secondary problems. Infections at the surgical site often occur when something that is not sterile touches the site. This could be bacteria from one of the surgeons or assistants, or surgical tools that were not properly sterilized. Hospitals need to continuously maintain clean operating rooms and specific procedures for surgeons to follow, in order to prevent them from causing infections.
3. Catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs): Millions of hospital patients receive intravenous fluids, better known as an IV. These are delivered through a peripheral catheter, which is usually placed in the arm. However, this catheter also opens up a way for bacteria in the environment to make their way directly into the bloodstream. Hospitals need to be very careful when placing the line and use a peripheral catheter that fully seals off the body from all foreign substances except those being delivered through the IV bag. Technology has advanced significantly in this area with new and improved devices.
4. Pneumonia: This HAI is most common in patients who have been using a ventilator for a rich supply of oxygenated air. If the ventilator itself has germs in it, these may be transmitted directly into the patient’s lungs. This is particularly dangerous for premature infants who are on ventilators because their bodies are not as able to fight off the germs. Medical facilities are combating ventilator-associated pneumonia by thoroughly sterilizing ventilators, ideally with steam. In addition, using ventilators through the mouth rather than the nose helps prevent pneumonia.
As a patient, you trust or doctors and medical advisors to be informed on infection rates, and ways to lessen the risk of infection. Always question the process of the medical procedure you’re undergoing, and inquire about cleaning methods and how often they are performed. When it’s your health on the line, never be afraid to ask questions to be certain that you are in safe, good hands. As mentioned throughout the article, infections do happen and they occur more often than many patients realize.
Adam Nix writes publications and educational articles relating to the field of hospital safety, medical practices, and current events in the medical and health industry.