Healthcare-associated infections, or infections acquired in healthcare settings, are the most frequent adverse event in healthcare delivery worldwide. Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by healthcare-associated infections each year, leading to significant mortality and financial losses for health systems (World Health Organization HAI Fact Sheet, 2014).
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), and Clostridium difficile are three bacteria commonly found in Canadian hospitals. They can cause symptoms ranging from asymptomatic colonization to septic shock and death.
Each year, about 8,000 Canadians die from hospital-acquired infections; 220,000 others get infected. Treatment is more costly than prevention; estimated costs for 2004 were $82 million. Costs are estimated at $129 million for 2010. That's $12,216 per infected MRSA patient per year due to:
- Prolonged hospitalization
- Special control measures
- Expensive treatments
- Extensive surveillance
You can successfully reduce healthcare-associated infections with these five evidence-based infection control strategies:
- Establish an aggressive hand hygiene program
- Clean and decontaminate the environment and equipment
- Implement contact precautions for any patient infected or colonized with a superbug
- Perform MRSA and VRE screening surveillance on admission and at other times
- Regularly report superbug infection rates to frontline and hospital leaders