What are HCAIs and how can we help reduce them?
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAI’s) are infections that occur whilst receiving healthcare, developed in a hospital or other healthcare facilities. They’re recognised as HCAI’s if they first appear 48 hours or more after hospital administration, or within 30 days after having received healthcare.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), approximately 300,000 people in England acquire an HCAI as a result of care within the NHS. These HCAI’s in turn cost the NHS upwards of £1billion a year.
Aditionally, the use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents can mean resistance is built up, making it harder to treat patients.
According to researchers at Imperial College London, ‘contaminated surfaces and medical devices contribute to the transmission of healthcare associated infections and the spread of antimicrobial resistance.’ They also claim that ‘antimicrobial surfaces could also play an important role in tackling antimicrobial resistance.’
Several studies suggest that simple infection-control procedures such as cleaning hands and using alcohol-based rub could help prevent HCAIs. While this should be done constantly in hospitals and healthcare environments, there is still the risk of cross contamination. Different, possibly contaminated, surfaces could be touched in between hand washes, and multiple people may touch surfaces in between cleaning.
Dr Gerald Larrouy-Maumus, senior lecturer at ICL, explained how ‘antimicrobial surfaces could disrupt the microbial habitat by reducing microbial attachment or kill attached microbes.’
The introduction of antimicrobial surfaces alongside standard healthcare procedures could become a huge part of the solution in trying to reduce the amount of HCAI’s contracted each year.
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