Samantha Stocks discusses how factors, such as insufficient hand hygiene, difficult-to-clean surfaces and poor air quality, can lead to the proliferation of harmful bacteria in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, putting vulnerable patients at risk.
She looks at the implications for healthcare environments and considers some of the latest technologies and solutions designed to tackle the growth and spread of pathogens.
We share the world with millions of species of bacteria. Trillions of them live on us and inside us, outnumbering our owns cells ten to one. Many bacteria are harmless, and some are even beneficial to our health. When they gain access to the wrong parts of our bodies, however, and grow rapidly, they can cause harmful infections. When these infections are contracted by patients in healthcare settings, the results can be devastating. Healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) are those acquired in a hospital or other healthcare setting – such as a hospice or care home. Patients in a healthcare setting are typically more susceptible to contracting infections due to diminished, disabled, or compromised immune systems.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimates that around 300,000 patients every year in England acquire a HCAI as a result of care within the NHS. By their very nature, healthcare environments are places with high concentrations of unwell people – and bacteria, viruses, and fungi are constantly being bought into hospitals by patients, visitors, and staff.
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