Healthcare Acquired Infections

The need for globally enhanced and more effective infection control and prevention practices has become increasingly evident in recent years. The unrelenting assault by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens (ARPs) at a rate that is far outpacing our ability to combat them effectively continues on a daily basis. Healthcare systems worldwide are continuously barraged with disease-causing microbes and have become overburdened by ARPs and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These institutions are evolving into areas where patients far too often become ill, rather than healed. The World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement in November 2017 stating that antimicrobial resistance is now considered a worldwide threat that demands interventions at all levels of society and government on a global basis (1). The current COVID pandemic confirms their concerns.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world contract HAIs every year, leading to substantial service and financial burdens (1). A 2016 article reported that HAIs are responsible for adding $281 million to the annual Canadian healthcare budget (23). In a 2013 Canadian Public Health Officer’s Report, the impact of MRSA alone to national healthcare systems was estimated to be in the range of $42 to $59 million annually (3). The yearly excess cost of HAIs to the American healthcare system is estimated to be $28–$33 billion (13). This now factors in the hundred of billions, and will no doubt increase beyond prediction in the coming months and years.

In addition to the financial burden, HAIs can have detrimental effects on patients. In 2018, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) reported that on any given day in a healthcare facility, 1 in 25 admitted patients will be fighting at least one infection acquired from that institution (2). In the US, the “CDC estimates that 5 percent of all hospital admissions result in infections that patients acquire during their stay while receiving treatment for other conditions, culminating in 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year” (13). In Canada, over 220,000 people contract a nosocomial infection annually and at least 8000 to 12000 people will die as a result of these infections (3). Clearly those number are skyrocketing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will be compounding the death rate of other infectious diseases known to be more ‘seasonal’, such as influenza.

People afflicted with nosocomial infections often require prolonged hospital stays, frequently sustaining long-term sequelae or disabilities, and face additional complications. These infected people also require special control measures, advanced and more expensive treatments, and enhanced surveillance, which all add substantially to the hospital bill (16). Further, these additional treatment regimes can potentially promote the cycle of evolving and increasingly difficult to treat pathogens. In addition, it is reasonable to assume that the prolonged length of stay expands the window during which the patient can contract additional infections.

With this novel Corona-19 virus it is not just the otherwise compromised individuals who are susceptible but healthy, young potentially imuno-enhanced individual in healthcare systems who are falling to the disease. This reinforces the principle that as healthcare providers we must all consider that every patient could be infectious with COVID-19 and that their infection must not become yours. The STAL Shield can enforce ‘social distancing’ between you and your Aerosol Generating Procedure and protect your PPE.

Note. This document has been edited. Original text and references can be found on the original document on our website

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