Healthcare associated
infections (HAIS) and
how to prevent them

3 min

Ref.: Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Volume 126, Article No. 126014 (2021)

HAIs, also known as hospital-acquired infections or nosocomial infections, are those that are not initially present or incubating when healthcare is initiated but that subsequently develop in relation to healthcare exposure. While Clostridioides difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species (VRE) are well-known bacteria that cause HAIs, infection from pathogens with additional antimicrobial resistance is an ever-increasing threat compounded by decline in antibiotic development, as predicted 20 years ago at the start of the new millennium. In addition, viral and fungal resistance continues to emerge while parasites, zoonotic pathogens, and major shifts in traditional respiratory pathogens continue to create challenges. HAIs are now well understood to be largely preventable, and the broader medical profession has recognised that reducing pathogens in the healthcare environment has a significant impact on the risk of developing a HAI. In current HAI data reports, the CDC reported approximately one in 31 patients nationwide has at least one infection in association with his or her hospital care.

In 2015, the most recently available published numeric data, the estimated number of HAIs in U.S. hospitals dropped to 687,000, but the number of deaths remained high at 72,000. This placed HAIs as the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, just after diabetes (79,535 deaths) at that time. The cost estimates for hospital-onset HAIs from varying cost perspectives, including the economic burden to the U.S. healthcare system and excess payments made by insurers such as Medicare, are enormous but also widely vary. While previous studies by healthcare providers have estimated an economic burden of approximately $ 10 billion annually for HAIs, a more contemporary examination of the impact of societal costs included the economic value of mortality risk reductions, thereby giving an estimate for the total economic burden to society in excess of $200 billion annually.

Number of deaths (thousands) for 2015 in the United States

Number of deaths for the leading causes of death for the total population of the United States in 2015 compared to hospital-associated infections (bar in yellow), with heart disease and cancer being the top two causes of death, with 633,842 and 595,930 deaths, respectively (capped at 200,000 on the scale of the graph for illustration purposes).

Based on the certified measurement of the effectiveness of the TriUV® disinfection unit and the known doses of UV radiation for inactivation of various bacteria and viruses, disinfection efficiency can be determined for one pass through the TriUV® unit:

TriUV® disinfection units therefore make a significant contribution to reducing Healthcare-Associated Infections. It should be emphasised that resistance to UV radiation cannot develop, as is the case with drugs.