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Reviewing the types and causes of nosocomial infections

People seeking medical care at any of the hospitals or medical centers in and around New York City enter such facilities expecting not only treatment for their injuries or illnesses but also improvement. However, in many cases, not only may that not happen, but one could see his or her condition actually start to deteriorate. What many may not know is that the cause of such deterioration many be due to an infection one acquired in the hospital itself.

Nosocomial infections are those that originate in a hospital or healthcare facility. As recently as 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were almost 722,000 such cases in the U.S. The most common causes of these infections are exposure to various forms disease-promoting bacteria. Transmission typically occurs through person-to-person contact, such as when a doctor or nurse touches a patient with unclean hands. Bacteria can also be spread through the use of surgical tools and other equipment that has not been properly sterilized.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the most common hospital-acquired infections are:

  •          Pneumonia
  •          Surgical-site infections
  •          Gastrointestinal infections
  •          Urinary tract infections
  •          Blood infections
  •          Infections of the ear, nose and throat

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of nosocomial infections is that they are largely preventable. Study data shared by the CDC shows that an increased emphasis on infection control measures on the part of healthcare providers can decrease incident rates by as much as 70 percent. Given the impact that healthcare personnel have on controlling hospital-acquired infections that is implied by this information, it seems little wonder why provider error is so often cited as the cause of such cases. 

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