HAI infections, or Healthcare-Associated Infections, have a very significant impact both in terms of the health of the patient, who sees lengthened hospitalization times, and consequently in economic terms for the entire structure. While care recipients are most at risk of contracting infections, they can also impact healthcare workers and visitors.
According to the World Health Organization, which has compiled a global report on HAIs – which can be consulted at this link – in Europe alone, Healthcare-Associated Infections cause 16 million additional days of hospitalization, 37,000 attributable deaths, and 110,000 deaths for which infection is a contributing cause. Approximately, the costs are estimated to amount to 7 billion euros, and this is including only direct costs. It is a phenomenon that affects about 6.3 out of every 100 patients present in the hospital. The number drops in-home care, where we are about 1 patient out of 100 who contracts an HAI. The estimated incidence rate in the United States of America (USA) has been 4.5% since 2002, corresponding to 9.3 infections per 1000 patient days and 1.7 million people affected.
The consequences of HAIs do not only concern the prolongation of hospitalization but can cause a whole range of problems for the patient, such as an increase in the resistance of microorganisms to antibiotics, an additional economic and emotional burden for patients, relatives, and the healthcare system in general, as well as an increased risk of the patient suffering medium- and long-term disability.
What are the main healthcare-associated infections or HAIs?
HAI is an acronym that stands for Healthcare-Associated Infections. But what are these infections, and what is the meaning of HAI? Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are acquired infections that can occur in any healthcare setting and are one of the most serious and frequent complications of healthcare. HAIs collect both exogenous infections, i.e., transmitted from the outside – a person-to-person contact, as in the case in which the infections are transmitted by healthcare workers or the hospital environment – and endogenous infections, i.e. caused by bacteria present on the inside of the body. Most HAI infections involve the urinary tract, surgical wounds, the respiratory system, and systemic infections, such as in the case of sepsis or bacteremia. The most frequent, however, is urinary tract infections.
Until the early 1980s, HAIs were due to Gram-negative bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumonia, both pathogens that can cause various diseases. Over the years, infections deriving from Gram-positive bacteria, such as Enterococci and Staphylococcus epidermidis, and those from fungi have increased.
However, recently, some Gram-negative bacteria have become very frequent in hospitals and healthcare settings, such as Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacteria (CPE) and Acinetobacter spp., responsible for serious infections and, above all, increasingly resistant to antibiotics.
Thus, here are the bacteria responsible for care-related infections. Depending on the micro-organism, HAIs can be transmitted in different ways: by direct contact, from person to person, by air – through droplets emitted when speaking, or during sneezing or coughing – or indirectly, through contaminated objects such as diagnostic or nursing instruments, or common objects.
They can occur in outpatient settings, in home care, but also in long-term care and day hospital or day-surgery facilities. Territorial residential facilities are also no exception.
What are the main causes of HAI infections?
The causes of healthcare related infections are diverse. First of all, it should be emphasized that the progressive introduction of ever-new health technologies and the use of more or less invasive and complex medical and surgical devices have had the direct consequence of allowing bacteria and microorganisms in general to reach body sites normally sterile. This obviously does not mean that new technologies have given a potential breakthrough in running and in the treatment of various diseases.
The causes of HAI infections also have to do with immunosuppression – or the general weakening of the body’s immune system – which can affect the patient. It goes without saying that, in the case of emerging bacterial strains that have developed antibiotic resistance, the course of many HAI infections can be complicated. Not all HAIs are preventable, but something can currently be done about more than half of these infections: once again, the watchword is sanitization.
Can the impact of HAIs be reduced?
We cannot ignore the urgency of focusing on the prevention and control of HAIs, so as to be able to respond concretely to the reduction of the spread of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. To this end, each care facility must apply a set of good care practices, along with other key measures.
The first of the key measures is hand washing: it seems obvious only from common sense, yet washing and disinfecting your hands correctly is essential.
Reducing unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic procedures is equally important, as is the correct use of antibiotics and disinfectants. Protecting patients with adequate antibiotic prophylaxis, administering vaccines to patients and healthcare workers when necessary, and paying attention to asepsis during invasive procedures are other good practices to be taken into account.
In addition to these practices, however, it is good practice to focus on the correct sterilization of the aids: only in this way can a large number of infections be avoided and the risks that the infections cause significantly lower. In this sense, AMIL Care can make a difference.
AMIL Care in the fight against HAI
Ensuring an environment with a low microbial load is essential in the management of hospital facilities and also in the fight against healthcare-related infections: the need to work and move in a properly sanitized environment is therefore essential.
AMIL Care has focused on hydrogen peroxide, a molecule that naturally decays into oxygen and water, two elements, it goes without saying, that are totally harmless to health. And it is precisely hydrogen peroxide that is the active ingredient that, together with silver salts and micro-nebulization technology, makes up the Medisystem (in particular Medibios plus.hub), a patented and certified system that plays a key role in combating major healthcare-related infections.
Medibios plus.hub is a CE-marked class 1 medical device, specifically designed to be used in various hospital areas. It is the latest generation micro-nebulizer, practical, handy, and technological, and easy to use thanks to its display. It can treat from ten to two thousand cubic meters of space.
The system combines automated dispensing devices with disinfectant chemicals, both developed by the company. The automated device enables high-level disinfection cycles with no-touch technology, together with validated decontamination protocols, mainly in critical areas, active on major multi-resistant pathogens, even in hard-to-reach places.
To learn more about our products, or simply to learn more about issues related to hospital infections, you can contact the AMIL Care staff.