Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare setting. HAIs can happen in any type of health care facility, whether at hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, end-stage renal disease facilities, assisted living and long-term care facilities. Bacteria, fungi, viruses, or other, less common pathogens can cause HAIs. These infections represent a very significant concern for patients, health professionals, and healthcare systems due to their implications for morbidity, mortality, and additional healthcare costs.
HAIs are often a significant cause of illness and death. These infections will often produce serious emotional, financial, and medical consequences to patients, their families, and healthcare in general. At any given time, about 1 in 31 inpatients have an infection related to hospital care. These infections lead to tens of thousands of deaths and cost the U.S. health care system billions of dollars each year, yet HAIs are avoidable. Learn more about healthcare-associated infections, the types, risk, and treatments below.
What Causes HAIs?
HAIs can be caused by various microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. HAIs are often transmitted through direct contact with contaminated surfaces, instruments, or healthcare personnel. The risk of HAIs is exacerbated by several factors, such as invasive procedures, prolonged hospital stays, and the overuse or misuse of antibiotics.
Most Common Types of HAIs
- Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSIs): Infections that occur when germs enter the bloodstream through a central line (a tube that doctors place near the heart to administer medication or collect blood).
- Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs): Occur when germs enter the urinary system through a urinary catheter.
- Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP): Pneumonia occurring in people who are on mechanical ventilation.
- Surgical Site Infections (SSIs): Infections that occur at the site of surgery, either on the skin or deeper tissues. Patients will commonly acquire a staph or MRSA from surgical site infections.
- Clostridioides difficile infections: Caused by bacteria that can lead to severe diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon.
Health Risks & Economic Costs:
HAIs will often lead to prolonged hospital stays, long-term disability, increased resistance of microorganisms to antimicrobials, massive additional financial burdens, high costs for patients and their families, and excess deaths.
- In the US: It’s estimated that HAIs account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year. The direct costs to hospitals range from $28 billion to $45 billion.
- Globally: HAIs remain a significant issue, especially in low and middle-income countries where the rates are at least three times higher than in high-income countries.
Challenges with Traditional Treatments
Many traditional wound care treatments and preventive measures are becoming less effective due to:
- Antibiotic Resistance: The misuse and overuse of antibiotics have led to the emergence of multiple drug-resistant organisms.
- Biofilms: Some bacteria can create protective layers called biofilms that render them impervious to traditional disinfectants and antibiotics.
- Complex Medical Procedures: Advances in medicine have introduced complex procedures that come with their unique infection risks.
The Need for New & Innovative Antibiotics
With the challenges posed by HAIs and their ever-increasing resistance mechanisms, healthcare urgently requires new strategies and solutions. One such promising solution is Vitastem Ultra’s topical antibiotic spray.
- Vitastem Ultra’s Promise: This topical antibiotic spray harnesses innovative transdermal drug delivery technology powered by parent company, ViaDerma, which is used to treat wounds far more effectively, acting swiftly against a broad spectrum of bacteria, including those traditionally deemed resistant. By providing a barrier and potent antimicrobial action, it can significantly reduce the chances of infection.
- Benefits: It offers a non-invasive approach to wound care, reduces the need for systemic antibiotics (thus combatting antibiotic resistance), and is suited for a variety of clinical scenarios.
The Bottom Line on the Fight Against HAIs
The battle against HAIs is complex and ongoing, but with combined efforts from healthcare professionals, researchers, policymakers, and innovative antibiotics like Vitastem Ultra, we can pave the way for safer healthcare settings and better patient outcomes, especially when protecting the elderly from HAIs, who are most vulnerable to acquiring these infections. The future of medicine hinges on our ability to prevent and effectively treat these infections, emphasizing the need for continuous research, awareness, and innovation.
Vitastem is working diligently to partner with leaders in healthcare around the world to accelerate the usage of our topical antibiotic spray throughout hospitals, surgical centers, wound care, and assisted living facilities with a mission to help drastically reduce, if not eradicate the rise of HAIs and spread of these infections to others.