Facts about Healthcare associated infections

Healthcare associated infections (HAI) affect patients while treated at hospital, healthcare unit or at home.  More than half of all infections are caused by medical devices. The infection causes patient suffering and is often treated with antibiotics, which increases the risk for the spread of multi-resistant bacteria. 

HAI caused by medical devices

Catheterisation is one of the greatest risk to acquire a HAI. Three of the four most common areas where HAI occur are the urinary tract, respiratory tract and the bloodstream. Urinary tract infections are the most common infection, with one third of all HAI and about 90 percent of them are caused by indwelling Foley catheters. Catheter related bloodstream infections (CBRSI), so called Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSI) account for about 14 percent and infections in the respiratory tract , with about 15 percent of all HAI1.

antimicrobial resistance and MRSA

Antimicrobial  medicines like antibiotics, are used to kill or stop the growth of  living microorganisms and include among others antibiotica, used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antimicrobial medicines also include antiviral products used against viral infections such as influenza,  HIV, herpes infections and antiparasital drugs used to treat diseases such as malaria.

Antimicrobial resistance is resistance against one or several types of pharmaceuticals. This means that medicines such as antibiotics can no longer be used to prevent or cure an infection.  Microorganisms such as bacteria, virus or parasites which are resistant to antimicrobial medicines are often hard to treat since they have developed a "shelter" against these types of medicines.

The frequent use of these types of medicines has contributed to steadily increasing antimicrobial resistance, which results in that bacteria, viruses and parasites continuously adapt and develop. Multi-resistant bacteria like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)2  is found in hospitals and can cause a wide range of infections; urinary tract infections, pneumonia and bloodstream infection. Infections caused by MRSA are often difficult to treat since the bacteria is resistant to many types of antibiotics.


Antibiotics are often used to treat HAI and increases the risk for the spread of multi-resistant bacteria, This increases the risk for multi-resistant bacteria, i.e. bacterias which have developed resistance against antibiotics. In the report "The state of the world's antibiotics" by "The Center for Disease Dynamics Economics & Policy" it is stated that the world`s consumption of antibiotics has increased by about 30 percent between 2000 and 2010, based on data from 71 countries. India, China and the US are the biggest consumers of antibiotics in the world3.

Facts about Healthcare associated infections

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned about the high and steadily increasing use of antibiotics, leading to a post-antibiotic era and as a result, common infections and routine surgery may lead to death when there are no longer any effective medicines. Studies show that approximately 70 percent of the bacteria that cause HAI are resistant to one or more most commonly used antibiotics4

If no action is taken, ten million people around the world will be at risk of dying each year from multi-resistant bacteria by 2050. This can be compared to the approximately 8 million people who die from cancer and 1,2 million who die in traffic accidents worldwide every year. Preventive actions to reduce the number of HAI and the spread of multi-resistant bacteria are therefore becoming more important to change this negative trend5

Read more about antibiotic resistane and MRSA on European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

1 Klevens RM et al. Estimating healthcare associated infections and deaths in U.S. hospitals, 2002 Public Health Rep. 2007 Mar-Apr;122(2):160-6 
2 European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control/Using antibiotics responsibly
3 The Centre for Disease Dynamics Economics % Policy, The state of the world's antibiotics
4  WHO's globala rapport om antibiotikaresistens, 2014
5  Jim O'Neill, Review on Antimicrobial resistance - tackling drug-resistant infections globally, December 2014