A healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is an infection that a patient acquires in a medical setting, such as a hospital, an ambulatory surgery center, an outpatient dialysis center, or a skilled nursing facility.
This broad category of infections includes surgical site infections (SSIs), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), bloodstream infections (BSIs), pneumonias, and skin and soft tissue infections.
HAIs are caused by a wide variety of different bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Many of these can cause significant morbidity and mortality, particularly with immunocompromised and elderly patients who are the most vulnerable. Although infection prevention knowledge and practice are constantly improving, HAIs continue to be an important public health concern.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that infections contracted in U.S. hospitals account for approximately two million infections, 90,000 deaths, and an estimated 4.5 billion dollars in excess costs annually. It has also been estimated that 5-15% of all hospitalized patients experience a HAI and that these cases are widely under reported. To learn more about healthcare-associated infections, go to CDC - HAIs.