Healthcare associated infections

Healthcare associated infections

Millions of people are affected by healthcare associated infections annually. This not only causes patient suffering but due to the overuse of antibiotics leads to an increased risk for the spread of multi-resistant bacteria. Infections caused by multi-resistant baceria are often difficult to treat since the bacteria is resistant to many types of antibiotics.

There is always a risk of acquiring a healthcare associated infection when seeking care at hospital or receiving home care. Healthcare associated infections (HAI), is a global healthcare threat. Today it is the third leading cause of death in developed countries after cancer and heart and vascular disease. HAI is a growing problem worldwide,  regardless of national boundaries or class. Every year, six million patients are affected in the US and EU alone, resulting in approximately 150 000 deaths1,2. In the US , the annual financial losses due to healthcare associated infections are approximately 6.5 billion USD and the corresponding costs for Europe are approximately 7 billion Euro3.

More than half of all healthcare associated infections are caused by bacterial growth on medical devices4. The use of catheters is one of the greatest risks as it creates a passage between a patient's body and the environment5. Studies show that about 70 percent of bacteria causing HAIs are resistant to one or more of the most commonly used antibiotics5. This increases the risk for the spread of multi-resistant bacteria.


1 Klevens RM et al. Estimating health-care associated infections and deaths in U.S. hospitals, 2002. Public Health Rep. 2007 Mar-Apr;122(2):160-6
2 Annual epidemiological report on communicable diseases in Europe 2008, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control
3 WHO, Patient Safety - A World Alliance for Safer Health Care
4 Murphy C.L. Phd. Rn. MPH. President of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control 99nd Epidemiology (APIC). Prevention of device-related infection: A global call to action, March 2010
5 Battle of the Bugs: Fighting Antibiotic Resistance, 7 G-Science Academies Statements 2013 "Drug Resistance in Infectious Agents - A Global Threat to Humanity"