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What are hospital-acquired infections?

Every time you become a patient in a New York hospital, you risk getting a hospital-acquired infection while you are there. In fact, according to a recent HealthLine report, your chance is one in 10. And this risk increases if your hospital stay includes time in an intensive care unit where doctors and nurses treat the sickest patients.

If you have never before heard about hospital-acquired infections, you need to know that they go by other names as well, such as nosocomial infections and health-care associated infections. Regardless of name, HAIs are infections you acquire during one of the following times:

  • Within 48 hours of your hospital admission
  • Within three days after your hospital discharge
  • Within 30 days after your surgery or surgical procedure

HAI causes

HAIs result from the viruses, bacteria and fungi that run rampant in hospitals and rapidly spread via person-to-person contact. Up to 11% of surgical patients get an HAI, and so do up to 29.6% of pediatric ICU patients. Your own chances of getting an HAI increase dramatically if you enter the hospital with an already compromised immune system.

HAI types and symptoms

HAIs come in a variety of types, but the following represent the most common:

  • Urinary tract infections a/k/a UTIs
  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Surgical site infections

Naturally your HAI symptoms will depend on which infection you get, but high fevers, coughs, breathing problems, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are all common symptoms. In the case of a UTI, you likely will feel burning when you urinate and you may find it difficult to urinate. In the case of a surgical site infection, the area around your wound likely will become irritated if not downright painful.

While you should not interpret this educational information as legal advice, it can help you understand the nature of hospital-acquired infections and how they can negatively impact your health.

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