Can Hospitals Infect You?

Imagine going to a hospital fully fit and fine for a regular checkup and returning home with a deadly infection. Seems highly impossible? Well, here’s some food for your thought.

Facts

· A WHO survey conducted in 2015 showed an average of 8.7–10 % of patients admitted in a hospital had healthcare associated infections.

· At any time, over 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from infectious complications acquired in hospital (CDC 2015).

What are these Healthcare associated infections?

A healthcare associated infection or more commonly known as hospital acquired infection is an infection which a patient acquires from the hospital or healthcare facility. The risk of acquiring such infections increases with the duration of the stay in the hospital. These infections occur worldwide and affect both developed and developing countries. What may come as a surprise to many, infections acquired in health care settings are among the major causes of death and increased morbidity among hospitalized patients. They are a significant burden both for the patient and for public health.

What the Healthcare professionals can do?

A situation as grave as it appears, has ironically a contrasting and a very simple solution. A measure as simple as hand washing practiced by healthcare professionals can bring down the rate of hospital acquired infections by a staggering 96 percent. This means that instead of 10 out of every 100 patients, only 1 out of 100 will suffer from Healthcare associated infections.

What the healthcare organizations can do?

In order to provide good quality and safe care, the healthcare professionals must not only possess knowledge and skills but must also develop positive attitudes towards infection control guidelines. In the current scenario of health care field, very little is known about the provider’s Knowledge, Attitude and Practice regarding infection control. Hence, it becomes imperative for healthcare organizations to ensure measures to assess these parameters of healthcare workers in Hospitals.

Regular monitoring of the knowledge levels of staff and continuous training in form of Lectures, Workshops, CMEs, Seminars, Conferences etc. will not only help in improving the current levels of knowledge of the novice but will also ensure reinforcement of facts and practices for the already trained staff. It will further also help in inducing a positive attitude among the hospital workers and eventually lead to a patient safe environment.

So, I urge the healthcare Industry to move towards an approach where the hospitals are recognized as institutions where the unhealthy can recover, not weaken.

- Ms Ginny Kaushal
Faculty,INLEAD