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HAI’s in Healthcare Construction: Costs, Infections, Pathogens

Blog_HAIs in Healthcare

Healthcare construction comes with plenty of risk to your facility and the patients and staff inside. Many of these risks are visible, like heavy machinery, debris, harsh chemicals, and more. Others, however, are entirely invisible to the eye, yet much more sinister. One of the biggest dangers to modern healthcare facilities around the world is hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) that result from construction or renovation activities in a medical center. 

While HAIs present significant risks to healthcare facilities under normal circumstances, invasive construction activities increase the likelihood that patients will contract HAIs. As the manager of your facility, it is your responsibility to limit the impact of construction on your facility. To do this most effectively, you must consider the dangers and costs — financial and otherwise — of rampant HAIs in your facility. 

The Invisible Threat: How Construction Can Cause Infection

While the main focus of modern healthcare centers is healing and rehabilitation, patients who come into a hospital are, unfortunately, at risk of more than just the condition or disease that they have when they are admitted into the facility. Each new influence — hospital staff, medical professionals, patients, visitors, construction teams, etc. — that comes into the facility brings new and different germs and bacteria into the space. The busier the facility, the more risk of these outside dangers that you’re up against in your infection control strategy. 

Facilities that are in the throws of construction or renovation projects experience this more intensely with the influx of people, materials, and disruptive activities. Construction crews and maintenance workers add to the traffic in the hospital’s hallways. New materials and supplies coming into the building bring along outside dirt, debris, and germs. Even the construction activities themselves often cause vibrations that launch dust and mold spores into the air. Demolition — knocking down walls, jackhammering, etc. — has a particularly intense impact on the surrounding environment. 

These activities can disturb, release, and mobilize the spread of harmful particles around the facility. Between the risk of irritation and infection as well as construction work’s negative effects on patient stress levels and medical instrument performance, facility managers must take construction work seriously. It’s not just a disturbance to routine hospital operations; it’s a significant risk factor as well.  

Discover more dangers of HIAs in healthcare facilities here.

The True Cost of HAIs in Healthcare

The numbers show us just how devastating the impacts of HAIs can be. With over 1.4 million individuals worldwide grappling with HAIs at any moment, the impact is undeniable. Beyond just contracting HAIs, roughly 100,000 people die each year from HAIs, with an estimated 5-7% caused by construction-related activities specifically. This means that not only do construction and renovation activities bring more traffic, chaos, and potential risk to your facility, but they can increase the overall likelihood of deadly infections as a result. 


With statistics like these, it’s clear that infection control and safe construction and renovation procedures are more than best practices. It’s the difference between life and death. 

Learn more about the costs of unchecked HAIs here.

5 Effective Strategies to Prevent HAIs

Standard preventative infection control measures simply aren’t enough when there are active construction projects taking place in your facility. When lives are at risk, it is your responsibility as the facility manager to ensure proper precautions are in place and that you’re consistently monitoring these safety measures. 

Certain measures have been shown to have more of an impact on the fight against mold and other infections, including: 

  1. Staff Education: Making sure your staff are well-educated on infection control procedures and the importance of following them rigorously.
  2. Dust Control: Implementing containment units and barriers to minimize dust and particulate spread. Consider dust containment carts like the HEPACART® Classic or a room isolation module like our AnteRoom to implement industry-leading dust containment and infection control in your hospital. 
  3. HEPA Filtration: Ensuring areas with vulnerable patients and/or increased risk of infection are equipped with high-efficiency particulate air filters. This includes sourcing high-quality equipment that is built with HEPA filtration as well as completing regular maintenance and changing HEPA filters as directed. 
  4. Planning With ICRA: Leveraging Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) frameworks to anticipate and mitigate risks associated with construction activities. This goes beyond understanding ICRA yourself to hiring ICRA-educated construction teams and regularly providing access to ICRA standards updates. 
  5. Routine Surveillance: Adopting routine monitoring practices to detect and address potential infection sources promptly. Create a checklist — or use the ones that ICRA provides — to keep a watchful eye on your infection control measures throughout a construction or renovation project. 

Learn more about preventative measures.

Defend Against HAIs With a Great Infection Control Strategy

With all of the resources available to modern healthcare facilities, it is the responsibility of the facility management team to identify the best ways to achieve not only regulatory compliance but also the specific needs and goals of your facility. The procedures, strategies, and specific equipment on the market today each come with pros and cons, facility managers must be able to critically determine which combination will create the safest facility and the best defense against the dangers of HAIs. 

Consider the educational sources that you’ll point your teams to, the quality of equipment that you invest in, and the processes and procedures that you’ll put in place. With every decision that you make, you’re adding (or subtracting) from your facility’s defense against potentially deadly HAIs in your medical center. The consequences are dire — make sure that you’re proceeding appropriately. 

Explore practical ways to curate the most effective infection control strategy here.

Empower Your Fight Against HAIs With Knowledge

When you’re faced with the complicated reality of modern healthcare infection control, knowledge is your number one resource. Educating yourself, your staff, and any construction teams that you employ to take on renovation work sets your entire facility up for safer and healthier healthcare construction.

For an in-depth guide to curating high-quality indoor air in your healthcare facility, download our free guide today. 

Ultimate Guide to Indoor Air Quality

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