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HAIs Exposed: Unraveling the Most Common Hospital-acquired Infections

Blog_Image_Preventable HAIS

A hospital-acquired infection, or HAI, is an infection acquired as a direct or indirect result of healthcare. Infection control is a fundamental priority for hospital compliance in medical centers around the globe, but HAIs are still common. In fact, roughly 1 in every 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection at any point in time according to the CDC. Of those that have a hospital-acquired infection, an average of 1 in every 10 affected patients will die as a result. This means that not only are vulnerable patients coming to your facility and contracting additional infections, but they are also more likely to deal with longer hospital stays, more health complications, and higher rates of mortality.

However, the impact doesn’t stop there. HAIs cause problems for medical facilities themselves by adding to the workload of healthcare teams, increasing the risk of medical staff getting sick, lowering their productivity, and causing staff to potentially need to take sick days themselves. 

The good news is that an overwhelming 70% of HAIs can be prevented with simple hygiene and proactive infection control strategies. When a majority of HAIs are entirely avoidable, patient and staff health as well as the reputation of your facility lie in your ability to implement and monitor ongoing infection control procedures. From the health risks to the financial implications and strict regulations, your facility cannot afford to let HAIs get out of hand. 

How Construction Increases Infection Risks in Healthcare Facilities

HAIs cause enough of a problem in day-to-day operations for healthcare facilities, but when construction or renovation projects are thrown into the mix, the risks become much greater. More than 100,000 people die each year from hospital-acquired infections, and between 5% to 7% of those can be directly attributed to construction activities. The numbers prove that construction isn’t just a nuisance in a medical center — it can be deadly if not properly managed. A solid infection control strategy is a literal lifesaver for the patients and staff in your facility, so it’s critical to understand the dangers of HAIs and how to mitigate the risks.

What Makes Healthcare Construction So Dangerous?

From simpler renovation work to a complete overhaul of an area in your hospital, construction activities pose major risks. For example, opening up a wall or jackhammering in an indoor space launches potentially harmful and disease-carrying dust and debris into the air for nearby patients to breathe in or otherwise come into contact with. Just about any area and any type of construction activity can generate construction dust that will likely carry fungal spores and other dangerous particles around your facility unless you’ve set up isolation barriers properly. 

While standard cleaning and hygiene practices can keep disease at bay under normal circumstances, construction adds another layer of risk. The best way to keep HAIs from taking over is to keep yourself and your teams up-to-date on best practices and infection control measures so that everyone can work together toward the goal of lowering the rates on HAIs effectively. 

The High Cost of HAIs in Your Facility

High rates of HAIs in your hospital will do more than impact the public’s reputation of safety in your facility. While you certainly want to provide the highest level of care and compliance for ethical reasons, there are financial implications as well. For example, the Affordable Care Act has measures in place that will penalize healthcare facilities with high rates of HAIs. This directly impacts their reimbursement revenues by millions of dollars. Similarly, failing to meet compliance standards that help to keep HAIs at bay will also result in penalties and fees as well as threatening accreditation. This is important year-round, but particularly when construction work adds extra risk to the equation. 

The 3 Most Common Hospital-acquired Infections

What is the most common hospital-acquired infection? It ultimately comes down to three conditions that make up the majority of cases worldwide. Common HAIs such as mold infections and Legionnaires' disease pose serious health risks and can lead to further complications like sleep deprivation, exacerbation of existing lung diseases, and even physical injuries in rare cases. 

Three of the most common HAIs are Aspergillosis, Legionnaire’s Disease, and Central Line-associated Bloodstream Infections. 


Aspergillosis is a mold infection and one of the most common hospital-acquired fungal hospital infections that primarily affects the lungs and can lead to severe complications, extending hospital stays and increasing patients’ treatment costs. Aspergillosis is thought to be caused largely by vibrations and movement from construction activities that stir up higher fungal spore counts in the air.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionnaires' disease is caused by Legionella bacteria that is found in stagnant water and often accumulates in construction areas. This infection often requires intensive care and prolonged treatment, resulting in higher healthcare costs and longer recovery times for patients.

Central Line-associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSIs)

CLABSIs are bloodstream infections caused by the placement of a central line. CLABSIs are particularly dangerous because they provide a direct pathway for bacteria to enter the bloodstream, leading to severe and sometimes fatal outcomes. With ongoing construction activities taking place, healthcare teams must take extra care to sterilize materials and practice good hygiene to prevent these kinds of infections. 

6 Ways to Minimize the Risk of Healthcare-acquired Infections 

  1. Effective Use of Barriers: Physical barriers are essential in preventing the spread of infections by blocking the movement of harmful particles between spaces — especially to and from construction areas. This includes the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection for staff as well as wall barriers and dividers. 
  2. Optimizing Air Control: Facility managers should ensure that HVAC systems are regularly inspected and maintained to control airflows and eliminate potential contamination. High-efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, positive and/or negative air pressure, and dedicated air handling units can help you create the ideal flow of air to limit the spread of disease in your healthcare facility. 
  3. Managing Noise and Vibration: Excessive noise and vibrations can not only be a nuisance but also a health hazard, disrupting the sterile environment needed in medical settings. To manage noise pollution, consider installing soundproof materials, creating physical distance between service areas (like operating rooms or the ICU) as possible, and timing noisy construction activities appropriately. 
  4. Efficient Debris Removal: Construction and renovation projects are inevitable, but the dust and debris that they kick up can be deadly. Take care to ensure that any debris is dealt with appropriately and that you’re using effective measures of dust containment to keep the spread of disease-causing construction debris from impacting other areas of your facility. 
  5. Conducting Environmental Sampling: Regular environmental sampling of surfaces, equipment, and air can provide helpful data about your current cleaning protocols and the overall safety of the healthcare environment. By keeping a consistent eye on the effectiveness of your infection control measures, you can identify and address any potential outbreaks before they cause major safety risks. 
  6. Thorough Cleaning Procedures: Facilities should follow evidence-based cleaning processes and use appropriate disinfectants according to the risk of contamination in each area. By setting up cleaning standards and ensuring cleaning teams’ attention to detail, you can effectively prevent many HAIs before they ever become a problem. 

Essential Tools for Infection Control in Hospitals


Dust Containment Carts

Dust containment carts are designed to trap and isolate dust during construction or renovation projects inside healthcare environments. These carts use advanced HEPA filtration systems to capture 99.97% of dust particles, significantly minimizing the risk of airborne transmission of infections. The contained environment provided by these carts ensures that daily hospital operations can continue safely without the risk of spreading contaminants.

Explore our selection of best-in-class dust containment systems here. 

Air Purifiers/Scrubbers

Air purifiers and scrubbers play a pivotal role in maintaining indoor air quality by physically filtering out contaminants, including mold, pollen, and microbial spores. These machines are equipped with HEPA and sometimes ULPA filters and can remove particles as small as 0.3 microns with a 99.995% efficiency. This level of filtration is essential in areas like patient rooms, ICUs, and operating theatres, where clean air is critical. 

Discover the perfect air purifier or scrubber for your facility here. 

Disinfection Machines

Disinfection machines use technology like ultraviolet (UV) light, vaporized hydrogen peroxide, or electrostatic sprayers to disinfect surfaces and equipment within healthcare facilities. UV light disinfection, for example, is highly effective at destroying the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, ensuring they cannot multiply and cause more issues. Disinfection machines can be used in patient rooms, lobbies, and other common areas.

Shop disinfection equipment for your hospital here.

Protecting Your Facility with Advanced Air Quality Solutions

As a healthcare facility manager, your commitment to robust infection control has a direct impact on HAIs and the reputation of your facility. By incorporating advanced tools and strategies, you are not only maintaining high standards of patient care but also ensuring compliance with health safety regulations for your facility's operational success.

For a more in-depth guide to keeping your facility safe and healthy, download our free Ultimate Guide to Indoor Air Quality to take advantage of leading HAI-prevention strategies and infection control measures. 


The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Air Quality in High-Risk Environments