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Third Degree Burns and Hospital Acquired Infections (Part I)

Hospital acquired infection (HAI) is an infection that is acquired when the patient is admitted to a hospital or a health care facility for any reason other than that infection. The infection should not have been present or incubating prior to the patient’s being admitted to the hospital.

Sites of hospital acquired infections:

  • Burns and wounds: When a burn injury happens, the skin barrier will be broken and the body will become more vulnerable for all kinds of infections not only hospital acquired infections; this may as a result increase the risk of sepsis and septic shock.
  • Urinary tract: It is the most frequent hospital acquired infection site, foley catheterization accounts for more than 50% of hospital acquired urinary tract infection, that’s why the catheter must be removed as soon as there is no need for it to stay to decrease the risk of infection.
  • Blood stream: This is common in central line cathetarization where the hospital acquired infection may happen at the skin in the site of entry of the catheter or along the path of the catheter under the skin.
  • Respiratory tract: This type of hospital acquired infection is most common in critically ill patients, patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) and those on ventilators (ventilator associated pneumonia). These infections are associated with high infection associated complications and pneumonia.
  • Gastrointestinal tract (GIT): In children gastrointeritis is the most common hospital acquired infection which is mainly caused by a virus called Rotavirus. In developed countries a bacteria called Clostridium difficle is the major cause of hospital acquired gastrointeritis in adults.
  • Surgical site: The more complicated the procedure is, the higher the risk of having a hospital acquired infection.

Factors determining the risk of hospital acquired infections:

  • Duration of hospital stay: The longer the patient stays in the hospital, the higher the risk of exposure to hospital acquired pathogens and the greater the chance of being infected.
  • Age of the patient: Elderly and neonates are at higher risk of contracting a hospital acquired infection.
  • Immune status: The immune system plays a major role in fighting infections. Patients with low or suppressed immunity are at a higher risk for hospital acquired infections. Conditions that suppress the immune system may include malignancy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, steroid drugs and malnutrition.
  • Procedures and interventions: Procedures such as Endoscopy and surgery increases the risk of infections.
  • Hospital and care personnel: Cleanliness of the hospital and health care workers hygiene plays an important role in the transmission and spread of hospital acquired infection.
  • General health of the patient: The general health of the patient has a role as the presence of co-morbidities increases the risk of contracting infections.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.