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Hospital Acquired Infections: Dual Dangers for Patients and Budgets

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As a hospital facility manager, you're on the front lines of safeguarding not just the bricks and mortar of your building but every life — patients, staff, and visitors — within it. Daily hospital operations are complex enough on their own, but hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) add another major challenge that every facility manager in a healthcare facility deals with.

Patient care is the essence of any medical center, and infection control plays a major part in keeping everyone safe and healthy. Patients so that they can recover and leave the facility happy and healthy, and staff so that they can continue working without excessive sick days or decreased productivity. 

HAIs are any infection that a patient contracts while in a medical center that they did not enter with. They can happen even in the most diligent hospitals, but there are certain steps that your staff can take to build a powerful infection control strategy that will keep HAIs at bay. In fact, nearly 70% of HAIs are preventable. While most HAIs are passed around because of contact transmission, many are airborne and require specialized equipment to contain dangerous airborne particles.

Is your facility equipped to tackle HAIs head-on? In this blog, we’ll explore why HAIs are such a big deal in modern healthcare facilities and what you can do to head them off powerfully in your facilities’ daily rhythms. 

How Do HAIs Affect Healthcare?

HAIs are much more than just numbers on a report. They represent real people facing unexpected infections during their hospital stays. With over 1.4 million individuals worldwide grappling with HAIs at any moment, the impact is undeniable. 


When HAIs run rampant in your facility, your patients and staff are subjected to a whole host of unfortunate circumstances including: 

Longer Hospital Stays: When a patient contracts an HAI, they often must remain in the facility for longer to receive additional care before they’re able to safely return home. 

Pressure on Nursing Staff: With more patients needing to stay for longer stretches, medical staff face an increase in pressure to work with larger numbers of patients as well as frustration from patients who must stay longer than expected. 

Increased Healthcare Costs: Longer stays and overextended staff result in increased overall costs for your facility. Whether from medical supplies, staff overtime, and other additional costs, your facility’s bottom line will feel the impact of HAIs. 

Patient Readmission: When a patient goes home after treatment, the goal is that they are healthy and able to return to their daily life. When patients are impacted by HAIs, they are likely to return for medical care even after being discharged initially. 

Increased Mortalities: Unfortunately, when HAIs are more present in your hospital, the number of deaths also increases. With so many people dealing with lowered immune systems, HAIs can be particularly dangerous if left unchecked. 

The Ultimate Risk of HAIs in Your Facility

The burden of HAIs in your facility is more than a disruption or an added expense. HAIs are a deadly challenge for modern healthcare facilities worldwide, and, yes, you can expect a higher financial cost to your facility when HAIs are running rampant. However, there are also several other risks that your facility and everyone inside will likely face as well. From increased rates of mortality to their legal and ethical implications, hospital-acquired infections pose a major threat to exceptional patient care and a smooth and efficient medical facility. 

Increased Morbidity and Mortality 

HAIs can extend hospital stays, escalate treatment complexity, and, in severe cases, lead to increased mortality rates. For patients admitted with one issue, the unexpected battle with an HAI complicates their path to recovery, adding layers of challenge not just for them but for the entire healthcare system working to manage the additional burdens. This also places a burden on the entire healthcare system as there is more work, higher costs, and decreased resources for normal hospital operations when your existing patients need more care and attention due to HAIs.

Financial Burden on Hospitals

Addressing HAIs demands a substantial investment in additional resources — think antibiotics, isolation facilities, and specialized care — escalating healthcare expenses considerably. Beyond the direct costs, hospitals also risk financial penalties from regulatory bodies if HAI rates exceed acceptable thresholds, putting further pressure on already stretched budgets. When more people are impacted by HAIs, you’ll need more resources like isolation rooms, protective equipment, and more to maintain baseline levels of health and safety. Unfortunately, those things come at a significant cost to your facility’s bottom line. 

Challenges of Antibiotic Resistance

When antibiotics are used too frequently or improperly, it can lead to bacteria that no longer respond to our standard treatments. This resistance not only makes infections harder to fight, leading to longer hospital stays and more complex treatments, but it also drives up healthcare costs. With more medications needed and a higher level of monitoring to ensure patient safety, antibiotic resistance is not only an added complexity, it can majorly increase the costs that your facility faces. 

Legal and Ethical Ramifications

While, yes, there are legal repercussions if a hospital is found to be negligent, there is also an ethical understanding as well. A hospital's responsibility is to put patient safety first. The expectation is that they are actively working to fend off HAIs. This commitment to proactive prevention isn't just a best practice — it's an ethical matter to protect patients who trust us with their care. While avoiding fees and fines for noncompliance is important, it’s equally if not more critical to demonstrate a high level of ethical care to the patients who walk through your doors. 

How Can Your Facility Prevent HAIs? 

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HAIs pose a significant challenge for healthcare facilities, but there are practical steps that your facility can take to keep your facility safe and healthy for everyone inside. Standard infection control procedures are the foundation of every hospital's defense system against HAIs. These protocols provide essential guidelines for all patient care scenarios, regardless of the situation. By adhering to these practices — such as maintaining hygiene, controlling infections, and using medications wisely — we can prevent a significant number of HAIs. Neglecting to follow these protocols puts patients at unnecessary risk. 

5 Proactive Measures Against HAIs

Here are a few key ways that your facility can prevent HAIs daily: 

  1. Educate Your Staff: Knowledge is power. Make sure your staff are well-educated on infection control procedures and the importance of following them rigorously.
  2. Stay Vigilant with Surveillance: Keep a close eye on things with surveillance systems. By monitoring infection rates and trends, you can spot potential issues early on and take action.
  3. Keep It Clean: A clean environment is a healthy environment. Implement rigorous cleaning protocols to ensure that your facility remains free from harmful pathogens.
  4. Audit Regularly: Don't just set it and forget it. Regular audits of procedures and equipment are crucial to ensuring their effectiveness. If something's not working, don't be afraid to make changes.
  5. Promote Hand Hygiene: Remind your healthcare workers to wash their hands regularly. It may sound simple, but it's one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infections.

The Power of Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

By sharing best practices, data, and innovations, we can harness collective knowledge to improve outcomes and reduce the incidence of HAIs. Together, we strengthen our ability to tackle HAIs, leveraging our resources and expertise to develop and implement effective prevention strategies. Through collaboration, we not only enhance our understanding of HAIs but also drive innovation for a safer healthcare system as a whole.

Empower Your Fight Against HAIs Today

With the right approach, tools, and teamwork, you can make a tangible difference in the health and safety of your patients and staff. Embrace the challenge with informed strategies, a proactive stance on infection control, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

Dive deeper into effective infection control with our essential guide to indoor air quality. Download now to equip yourself with knowledge and tools that safeguard your facility against HAIs.

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