All hospitalized patients are susceptible to contracting an infection. Some patients are at greater risk than others, young children, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are more likely to get an infection. Other risk factors are long hospital stays, the use of indwelling catheters, failure of healthcare workers to wash their hands, failure to properly sterilize instruments, and overuse of antibiotics.
In American hospitals alone, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that HAIs account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year. Of these infections:
- 32 % of all healthcare acquired infection are urinary tract infections
- 22 % are surgical site infections
- 15 % are pneumonia (lung infections)
- 14 % are bloodstream infections
The overall direct cost of HAIs to hospitals ranges from $28 billion to 45 billion annually. While the range is wide, HAIs are clearly expensive. Not only to hospitals with re admissions and extra care ; but also to the patient with compounded physician visits, fuel costs, medications costs as well as a devastating change in lifestyle.
As patients we must speak up! You can lobby congress for funding the fight on antibiotic resistance, write letters to local agencies, get on social media about it as well as lobby local TV outlets to talk about this growing threat.