Hospital-Acquired Infections Explained

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The California Department of Public Health is required to report data from acute-care hospitals on four hospital-acquired infections.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): A staph infection that does not respond to certain antibiotics. It can be serious or life-threatening for patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities. It’s tied to surgeries, intravenous feeding and other invasive procedures.

Central-line-associated bloodstream infections: Occurs among patients who have tubes inserted near the heart or in large blood vessels so that they can receive fluids and drugs or have blood drawn. Germs can travel through the tubes and infect the bloodstream. The national annual mortality rate is estimated at 12 percent to 25 percent for each infection.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus bloodstream infection: Germs from intestines or the female genital tract can infect the bloodstream. Most at risk are hospital patients with weakened immune systems, those with IV tubes, or those on antibiotics for a long time.

Clostridium difficile infection: Can cause diarrhea and more serious intestinal problems such as colitis. Most common among patients in hospitals and nursing homes who are on antibiotics for long periods. It can spread in hospital settings.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mayo Clinic; Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America


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