Nosocomial Infections Definition

Illnesses that result from infection acquired in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or other health-care facility. The pathogen is typically bacterial, viral, or fungal. Many pathogens that cause nosocomial infections are resistant to common methods of treatment.

The Most Common Causes of Nosocomial Infections

  • Invasive procedures ranging from intravenous (IV) lines and urinary catheters to surgery
  • Environmental factors such as air-conditioning and heating systems that harbor and distribute pathogens
  • Poor hygiene practices by staff (inadequate hand washing, improper disposal of contaminated items)
  • Inappropriate separation of patients (such as medical patients roomed with surgical patients)

The risk for acquiring a nosocomial infection correlates directly to the length of time the person remains in the hospital or care facility-the longer the stay, the greater the risk. About 2 million people acquire nosocomial infections in the United States each year. Prevention efforts include improved infection control procedures and education for hospital and care facility staff.

See also ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE; BACTERIA; FUNGUS; LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASEOPPORTUNISTIC INFECTION; VIRUS.

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