Healthcare-Associated infections (HAI) are infections acquired by patients in the course of receiving medical or surgical care. In modern healthcare, there are many procedures and invasive techniques that are meant to improve the health of patients. However, some of these healthcare procedures may put the patients at the risk of infection. HAIs are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in healthcare institutions in the United States (Sievert et al., 2013). Additionally, these infections have led to an increased cost of healthcare. HAIs occur in various healthcare settings such as surgical centers, acute care centers, long-term care facilities, and even outpatient centers. There is need to improve the quality of care to reduce and possibly completely eradicate HAIs to enhance the quality of healthcare. The purpose of this paper is to discuss HAIs as a population health problem and develop a research topic on this health issue.
About Healthcare-Associated Infections
All people who visit healthcare facilities for medical or surgical treatment can acquire HAIs. However, there are some groups of people that are at a greater risk than others. The elderly population is at the highest risk of acquiring HAIs because of their increasing immune deficiencies (Sievert et al., 2013). The elderly people’s deteriorating immune system makes them more susceptible to infections by pathogens that are commonly found in the healthcare environment.
HAIs have been reported in every state in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has two HAI surveillance programs that track the rate of infections in all U.S. states and records the trends. According to CDC reports from 2015, at least 1 in every 25 patients acquire infections in the healthcare setting (Umscheid et al., 2011). These infections are most prevalent in specific areas of healthcare such as surgical sites and intensive care units.
The occurrence of HAIs is not seasonal. Patients are at the risk of acquiring infections at any time of the year provided they are exposed to an environment containing the pathogens that could cause the infections to occur. However, patients are at a greater risk at a time when they are undergoing surgical procedures or during antibiotic use.
The significance of this Health Problem
HAI is one of the major population health issues that affect the United States healthcare system. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has reflected its objective to reduce and eventually eliminate hospital-acquired infections through the Healthy People 2020 initiative. Health People 2020 identifies some of the risk factors that increase the chances of acquiring infections while receiving medical care. These include antibiotic use and medical procedures, organizational factors, lack of handwashing among healthcare workers and individual patient characteristics (Healthy People 2020, 2014). Various preventive strategies have been developed in a bid to eliminate HAIs, but research shows that these strategies have only been effective in reducing 70% of the infections (Sievert et al., 2013). Therefore, there is still the need to make more changes to reduce the infections and the morbidity and mortality that they cause. Research shows that proper education and training of healthcare workers in one of the most important strategies that can help to reduce infections in healthcare (Umscheid et al., 2011). This strategy helps to improve the best practices for healthcare workers to enhance the quality of care that they provide to patients.
Does handwashing education among healthcare workers compared to lack of handwashing education help to reduce the rate of healthcare-associated infections among the elderly population in healthcare facilities within a year?
P: Elderly population within healthcare facilities
I: handwashing education
C: lack of handwashing education
O: reduce the rate of healthcare-associated infections
T: a year
In spite of the many strategies in place to improve the quality of healthcare, HAIs are still a great population issue affecting medical institutions in the United States. Many strategies have been put in place to eliminate these infections, but there are still patients who are affected while in the course of treatment for other medical issues. There is need to create and improve more strategies that will enable the complete eradication of HAIs.
Healthy People 2020 (2014). Healthcare-associated Infections. Retrieved from: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/healthcare-associated-infections
Sievert, D. M., Ricks, P., Edwards, J. R., Schneider, A., Patel, J., Srinivasan, A., … & Fridkin, S. (2013). Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens associated with healthcare-associated infections summary of data reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009–2010. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 34(1), 1-14. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1086/668770
Umscheid, C. A., Mitchell, M. D., Doshi, J. A., Agarwal, R., Williams, K., & Brennan, P. J. (2011). Estimating the proportion of healthcare-associated infections that are reasonably preventable and the related mortality and costs. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 32(2), 101-114. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1086/657912