Healthcare associated infections
Across the globe, bacterial infections in hospitals and other health care settings (such as residential care homes for the elderly) are a significant and costly concern. Healthcare environments provide a significant risk for spreading antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. Any interventions that can be put in place to reduce the spread of infections within healthcare settings will lower the mortality and morbidity associated with these infections and minimise opportunities for more drug-resistant strains of bacteria to emerge.
Globally, levels of healthcare-associated infections (or nosocomial infections) are high. Low and middle-income countries are particularly are at risk. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 10 percent of all patients in these healthcare settings develop an infection. In high-income countries this figure is still significant. Seven percent of all patients admitted to hospital develop infections and this figure increases to one in three patients (33 percent) in intensive care units (ICUs).
The human cost of encountering antibiotic resistant infections should not be underestimated. They carry a significantly higher mortality risk. For example, the mortality rate associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA – an antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’), is at least 50% higher than patients with infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus that can be treated with antibiotics. The financial costs are also significant as outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections in hospital or health care setting can be expensive to contain, manage and overcome.
© University of East Anglia