Factors Affecting Hospital-Acquired Infection
Hospital infections as a group differ from other community-acquired infections, both in their patient profile and the sever-ity and treatment of the disease caused by them. The factors influencing hospital-acquired infections are as follows:
Hospitalized patients: Susceptible hospitalized patients areone of many factors responsible for hospital-acquired infec-tions. This is because most patients admitted in wards have impaired immunity either as a part of their preexisting disease processes or, in some instances, due to the treatment they have received in the hospital. They are therefore highly susceptible to infection.
Hospital environment: The hospital environment harborsa higher load of microorganisms due to the multitudes of infected patients visiting the hospital. These organisms man-age to infect the susceptible hosts through the medium of fomites in certain cases and through human carriers in others. Contamination of food, water, and in a few cases air has also been implicated in outbreaks of hospital infections.
Antibiotics resistance: The infectious agents present in thehospital environment also possess the dubious distinction of being more difficult to treat as they are usually resistant to a range of drugs which are used commonly. The initial resis-tant strains of bacteria are present in large numbers due to the constant selection pressure exerted because of the necessary antibiotic usage inside the hospitals and these then spread, replacing the other strains in the hospital.
Diagnostic or therapeutic procedures: Diagnostic or thera-peutic interventions, such as insertion of intravenous or ure-thral catheters, may introduce infection to susceptible patients and cause iatrogenic infections. There is a good chance that hospital infections are caused by the patient’s own flora as many invasive procedures are carried out within the hospitals, which exposes them to this risk.
Transfusion: Transfusion of blood, blood products, andintravenous fluids, if not properly screened, may transmit blood-borne pathogens to the recipient hospitalized patients.