A healthcare acquired infection
A healthcare acquired infection (HAI), also known as a nosocomial infection, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being an infection that is acquired by a patient in hospital who was admitted for reasons other than that infection. WHO also state that this term includes patients who acquire the infection in hospital but may not present symptoms until after they have been discarded (World Health Organisation, 2002).
Finally the term also includes hospital staff members who acquire occupation infections such as needle stick injuries. Further defining may restrict the definitions to an infection that develops 48 hours or more after hospital admission however, this seems an area of debate as the incubation periods varies between pathogens. (Garner et al, 1996)
In the United Kingdom, a 2006 survey found 7.6% of patients had a hospital acquired infection at any one time. It is thought that only 15-30% of these are preventable as a hospital environment will always have its risks, particularly for the young, old and immunosupressed. On the other hand, it is interesting to see a varied response when the question of preventable percentages is put to a 174 trust’s infection control teams
Evidence for unpreventable infection can be seen by comparing Britain to other countries prevalence of HAI’s. The EU 2007 average was 7.6 with France showing the lowest prevalence of 5.4% in 2006. In USA 2006 data shows a prevalence of 5-10%.
The bottom line is that no country in the world achieves close to zero HAI’s. It is also useful to look at the trends of HAI’s what have shown steady declines in HAI’s in the UK since 2000 showing that policies are working. (National Auditory Office, 2009)
The cost to the NHS is though to be approximately £1 billion, about 1% of the total NHS budget. This is very much a ball park figure created by the national auditory office in 2000 but remains the figure still quoted in more recent publications.
In addition the national auditory office also predicted that reducing HAI’s could reduce avoidable costs by up to £150 million which could then be spent to improve other services. (National Auditory Office, 2000) HAI costs remains a difficult figure to estimate as trusts tend not to calculate there own and a complex number of factors must be taken into acco…………………………
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