What are the most common health care-associated infections?
- Surgical site infections
- Urinary tract infections, including catheter-associated infections
- Pneumonia, including ventilator-associated pneumonia
- Bloodstream infections, including central line-associated infections
- Multidrug-resistant infections
- Infectious diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infections
What is antimicrobial resistance and why it is important?
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites develop ways to avoid the effects of specific medications, including antibiotics and antiviral therapies. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective and lose their ability to kill disease-causing microbes. Antimicrobial resistance is present in all parts of the world. It is caused by the inappropriate use of antimicrobials—both overuse and use when they are not needed.
Antimicrobial resistance is important because it increases recovery time, medical expenses and even death rates because commonly used drugs are less effective against microbes. Resistance requires the use of more expensive, often more toxic alternative drugs. Some microbes that were effectively treated a few decades ago are now more difficult to treat. These infections include pneumonia, tuberculosis, bloodstream infections (sepsis) and sexually transmitted infections.
Are there simple ways to prevent health care-associated infections?
Hand hygiene (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub) is the most effective way to prevent infections. Other simple steps to prevent health care-associated infections include getting and maintaining immunizations, preparing food safely, using antibiotics only as directed and only when needed, and using Standard Precautions:
- Hand hygiene
- Use of personal protective equipment
- Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
- Safe injection practices
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Processing textiles
- Waste disposal