Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can be serious and even deadly for patients. Those who access the health care system for illness or injury are expecting care and treatment, not additional illness and complications, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 20 hospitalized patients develop an HAI. Treatment of HAIs can be difficult and may last for years, especially when the organism is resistant to multiple antibiotics. In addition to the human burden, excess costs are incurred across the health care system and many patients and payors are no longer willing to accept these avoidable costs.
Transmission of organisms that cause HAIs can occur in many ways: caregiver-to-patient, environment-to-patient, or patient-to-patient. Programs that have been successful in reducing HAIs have made this a strategic imperative and generally focused on improving multiple interventions, such as hand hygiene, use of contact and other precautions, active screening, and robust decontamination rather than relying on a single approach.