Health Care-Associated Infections (HAI)
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According to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in twenty-five hospital patients have a health care-associated infection (HAI). The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has shown that the implementation of recommendations for HAI prevention from the CDC Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) can reduce HAI by 70% overall and virtually eliminate some specific types of infections. Broad implementation of the CDC guidelines saves lives, reduces suffering, and decreases health care costs. Through partnerships and the commitment of stakeholders, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) HAI Prevention Program supports health care facilities implementing best practices for preventing the spread of health care-associated infections. Health care facilities are asked to conduct surveillance or track HAI infections, ensure health care workers perform hand hygiene before and after patient contact and when they come in contact with body fluids, use personal protective equipment such as gowns and gloves, minimize use of devices (i.e. catheters), and ensure the patient care environment has been cleaned including the proper cleaning of shared medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs and glucometers. In addition, antibiotics need to be used wisely. Though antibiotics do help fight infection, overuse of antibiotics leads to the development and spread of multi-drug resistant organisms. Health care providers are asked to order cultures and review the results to ensure the most narrow spectrum antibiotic is used to treat infections.
Patients can also take action to help protect themselves from these types of infections. Speak up when receiving care and ask health care workers to wash their hands before touching you. If you are having surgery ask your doctor what you can do before surgery to help prevent infection or if you have a catheter, ask each day if it is still needed. Only take antibiotics when you need them, finish the course of treatment (i.e. do not stop taking your medicine when you begin to feel better), and remember that antibiotics typically are not effective against the common cold.
To learn more about specific types of infections and what DOH is doing to help prevent them, please click on the additional web pages to the left.