Healthcare-associated infections

What are we facing?

Globally: Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) and the Urgent Need for Prevention

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) pose a significant threat to healthcare systems worldwide. A recent global report on infection prevention and control by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed alarming findings. HAIs are a major concern within healthcare settings as they can lead to prolonged hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and, in some cases, even mortality.(1)

One group particularly vulnerable to HAIs is patients with pressure injuries. These individuals have compromised skin, providing an entry point for microorganisms to invade their bodies. Open wounds make them more susceptible to infections that can be transmitted through direct contact, contaminated surfaces, or medical devices.

According to the WHO report, HAIs affect millions of people globally, and the consequences can be devastating. Shockingly, 24% of patients affected by healthcare-associated sepsis and 52.3% of those treated in intensive care units succumb to these infections each year. HAIs can be caused by a wide range of pathogens and can spread through various routes, including contact with contaminated surfaces and medical devices.(1)

Efforts to prevent pressure injuries can have a positive impact on reducing HAIs by mitigating the risk of compromised skin integrity and decreasing the need for invasive medical procedures that can increase the likelihood of infection. Prioritizing prevention measures can reduce both the incidence of pressure injuries and, consequently, the risk of HAIs.(2)

In Australia/New Zealand: The Alarming State of HAIs

The concerning state of HAIs extends not only globally but also to Australia and New Zealand. In these regions, HAIs pose a significant problem, with Australian health facilities alone witnessing an estimated 165,000 cases each year. The Ministry of Health in New Zealand reported approximately 10,500 cases of HAIs in their hospitals during 2018.(3)

One of the most distressing consequences of HAIs is their impact on hospital bed occupancy. In Australia, it is estimated that HAIs occupy up to two million hospital bed days annually, placing an immense strain on healthcare resources.(4)

However, perhaps the most heart-wrenching aspect of HAIs lies in the number of lives lost due to these infections. HAIs have the potential to cause significant mortality rates, underscoring the urgent need for effective prevention and control strategies.(4)

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(1) WHO launches first ever global report on infection prevention and control
(2) Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (2019). Pressure injury prevention: Protecting patients from harm. Retrieved from
(3) Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (2019). Pressure injury prevention: Protecting patients from harm. Retrieved from
(4) Mitchell BG, Shaban RZ, MacBeth D, Wood CJ, Russo PL. The burden of healthcare-associated infection in Australian hospitals: a systematic review of the literature. Infection, Disease & Health. 2017 Sep 1;22(3):117-28.