Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a global crisis affecting both patients and healthcare workers.
Financially, HAIs represent an estimated annual impact of $6.7 billion to healthcare facilities, but the human cost is even higher. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report published in March-April 2007 estimated the number of U.S. deaths from healthcare associated infections in 2002 at 98,987. However, it is likely the number is even higher because, as the authors of the study point out, “No single source of nationally representative data on HAIs is currently available.1
According to the World Health Organization, “At any given time, 1.4 million people worldwide are estimated to be suffering from an infection acquired in a health facility. The risk of acquiring healthcare-associated infections in developing countries is 2-20 times higher than in developed countries.2
Until recently, a lack of HAI reporting requirements for healthcare facilities has contributed to less-than-optimal emphasis being placed on eliminating the sources of healthcare associated infections. However, growing public anxiety regarding the issue and resulting legislation on state and local levels demanding accountability is serving to accelerate initiatives to combat HAIs.