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Diseases & Topics

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs)

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections that develop during, or soon after, a person has been in a healthcare setting. These infections are widely recognized as a serious problem. Many are preventable.

HAIs can occur in all settings of care including hospitals, doctor's offices, same-day surgical centers, ambulatory outpatient care in healthcare clinics, and in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, and can also result from home-care visits by a health professional.

HAIs happen when infectious agents, such as bacteria, enter a patient's body. The infections are often associated with the use of medical devices such as catheters and ventilators, surgical procedures, transmission between patients and healthcare workers, and overuse of antibiotics. Healthcare-associated infections are a significant cause of illness and deaths in hospitals.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 5 percent of all hospital admissions result in a healthcare-associated infection, culminating in approximately 722,000 infections and 75,000 deaths each year as well as $28–33 billion in excess costs.  A recent publication estimated that HAIs in North Carolina cost $124-$348 million each year in direct expenditures.

The prevention of healthcare-associated infections is a public health priority in North Carolina and is a collaborative effort among the healthcare and public health communities.  The North Carolina Healthcare-Associated Infections Prevention program collaborates closely with partners to decrease the burden of HAIs in North Carolina. Visit the HAI Facts & Figures page to access quarterly reports for healthcare consumers and providers about HAIs in North Carolina.

Common types of HAIs include:

A new type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is increasingly being seen in the United States: carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or "CRE," which requires stringent infection-control measures.

Outbreaks of norovirus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can also occur in healthcare settings. Bloodborne illnesses such as hepatitis and HIV can be spread through unsafe injection practices and the re-use of blood testing devices such as blood glucose meters. Read about Injection Safety.

For Additional Information: