Risk Factors and Common HAIs

Factors that raise the risk of HAIs include: 

  • Catheters (bloodstream, endotracheal, and urinary)
  • Surgery
  • Injections
  • Health care settings that aren’t properly cleaned and disinfected
  • Communicable diseases passing between patients and healthcare workers
  • Overuse or improper use of antibiotics

Common HAIs that patients get in hospitals include:

  • Central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI)
  • Clostridium difficile infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections
  • Surgical site infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) are some of the most common HAIs.

HAIs and Antibiotic Resistance

It’s important to recognize how HAIs, antibiotic use, and antibiotic resistance are related. Prevention of HAIs leads to fewer illnesses requiring antibiotic treatment — and proper use of antibiotics slows the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms that can be difficult to treat.

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have greatly reduced illness and death — but widespread and indiscriminate use of antibiotics has accelerated the development of antibiotic-resistant organisms. This makes many antibiotics less effective.

Using antibiotics judiciously is essential in slowing the development of resistance and extend the useful lifetime of our most urgently needed antibiotics.

Antibiotic Stewardship

Antibiotic stewardship is one of the most effective approaches to improving antibiotic use. Antibiotic stewardship can:

  • Optimize clinical outcomes
  • Minimize unintended consequences
  • Improve patient safety
  • Improve cost effectiveness by reducing inappropriate antibiotic use

Antibiotic stewardship is important across the spectrum of health care.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have developed initiatives for antibiotic stewardship. ODPHP has published a new phase to the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections: Road Map to Elimination describing the federal health agencies’ response to supporting antibiotic stewardship.

Making the Connection

Focused HAI prevention activities and improved antibiotic use work together. Addressing these challenges together can increase the impact of efforts to slow the development of antibiotic resistance.

Partnering to Heal

This online video-simulation training program focuses on HAI prevention for clinicians, health professional students, and patient advocates. The training highlights effective communication practices and ideas for creating a culture of safety in healthcare institutions. Learn more about the training.

Partnering to Heal