Nosocomial Infections: Nosocomial infections are infections are acquired in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. To be classified as a nosocomial infection, the patient must have been admitted for reasons other than the infection. He or she must also have shown no signs of active or incubating infection.
These infections occur:
- up to 48 hours after hospital admission
- up to 3 days after discharge
- up to 30 days after an operation
- in a healthcare facility when a patient was admitted for reasons other than the infection
In the United States, it has been estimated that 9.2 out of every 100 patients acquire a nosocomial infection (Jarvis, et al., 1991).
Types: Urinary tract infections are the most common type of nosocomial infection. In the United States, surgical site infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia are the other most common types (WHO, 2012).The location of a nosocomial infection depends on the nature of a patient’s hospital procedure.
Causes: Nosocomial infections are caused by pathogens that easily spread through the body. Many hospital patients have compromised immune systems, so they are less able to fight off infections. In some cases, patients develop infections due to poor conditions at a hospital or a healthcare facility, or due to hospital staff not following proper procedures.Some patients acquire nosocomial infections by interacting with other patients. Others encounter bacteria, fungi, parasites, or viruses in their hospital environment.
Risk for Nosocomial Infections: Any hospital patient may obtain a nosocomial infection. Patients in intensive care units have a higher risk of developing an infection. According to the 1995 European Prevalence of Infection in Intensive Care Study, up to 20.6 percent of ICU patients acquire nosocomial infections during or after their stay. On average, nosocomial patients stay in the hospital 2.5 times longer than patients without infection. Patients with highly compromised immune systems are easily infected. This is because their bodies are not able to control the infections on their own.
Symptoms of Nosocomial Infections: Symptoms of nosocomial infections vary by type. They include inflammation, discharge, fever, and abscesses. Patients may experience pain and irritation at the infection site, and many experience visible symptoms.
Diagnosed: Many forms of nosocomial infections can be diagnosed through sight alone. Pus, inflammation, and rashes may all be indications of infection. Blood and urine culture tests can identify the infection.
Nosocomial Infections Treated: Treatments for nosocomial infections depend on the infection type. If the infection occurs at the site of a catheter or other inserted line, the line should be removed immediately.Antibiotics can combat symptoms of many infections. A healthy diet, fluid intake, and rest can encourage natural healing processes and prevent dehydration.