Health & Fitness

How to Reduce HAI Transmission Risks

Healthcare systems around the world work hard to help patients with various medical issues. When we get sick, we seek treatment at our local hospital. However, going to a healthcare facility doesn’t always result in receiving medicine, treatment, or a cure for our ailments. 

Sometimes we catch more severe diseases while staying at a hospital. These are called Healthcare-Associated Infections and here’s what you can do to reduce your risk of catching one. 

hai transmission risks

The Problem of Healthcare-Associated Infections 

Hospitals are often kept to strict sanitation standards. However, that doesn’t change the fact that healthcare facilities are also the perfect place for various germs, bacteria, and viruses to thrive. 

That being said, most of those who are at risk of HAIs are patients that had a urinary catheter installed, or have just come out of surgery. Any time you perform any kind of invasive procedures on a patient, the risk of HAI spikes. 

How to Reduce the Risk of HAI Transmission? 

Although the spread of HAI is difficult to eliminate completely, there are ways the risks to an acceptable level. Almost all of the following methods rely on effective planning and contingency procedures. Without them, the equipment we’re about to talk about has very little effect. 

Organization and Planning 

Vectors of HAI transmission aren’t many, but they are complex. The most important method of HAI suppression is frequent and methodical disinfection of all facilities. Having a good cleaning schedule in place is essential. In fact, surveys show that most healthcare employees recognize the lack of frequent cleaning as the main risk of HAI transmission in their place of work. 

Additionally, the use of efficient equipment has also shown to be a major factor. Experts over at argue that using advanced UV disinfection technologies leads to significantly lower rates of HAI transmission. Furthermore, they note that the use of UV radiation offers new options as far as disinfection goes.
learn about different transmission risks

Personal Hygiene

There are generally two vectors of HAI transmission that carry the highest risks — vertical and horizontal. 

  • Vertical vectors imply infection through the use of the same facilities (i.e. two patients using the same bed consecutively). This type of HAI transmission is prevented through proper cleaning and disinfection procedures. 
  • Horizontal vectors imply the spread of infection from one patient to another using a carrier. In many cases, the carrier is none other than the attending physician. 

Preventing the spread of HAIs through horizontal vectors of transmission greatly depends on the healthcare worker’s personal hygiene habits. Frequent handwashing, contact discipline, and extensive use of hand sanitizers have shown a significant reduction in the rate of transmission among patients deemed as high risk. 

Limited Intervention Exposure 

While HAIs spread through contact with physicians as well as medical equipment, they also spread through various interventions. Catheters, central lines, and other tools frequently used to treat/monitor patients are real HAI hotspots. 

While it is borderline impossible to eliminate the use of these instruments, you can choose the timing, as well as the place of insertion that reduces the risk of HAI transmission. 

Additionally, optimizing patients also plays a vital part in this process. Recognizing which patients are susceptible to certain types of infections can help with the planning and triage of such cases. 

Advanced disinfection technologies such as contactless UV disinfection are only as effective as the system they’re a part of. By focusing on proper planning, you can increase the efficiency of any tools and procedures you have in place. 

Improving Personal Hygiene Awareness 

Healthcare facilities are often hectic when they reach peak capacity. Especially if we’re talking about tier 1 trauma centers and similar facilities. That being said, no matter how much traffic a facility sees on any given day, it is of utmost importance to maintain high levels of personal hygiene. 

Washing hands is the most basic form of personal hygiene, but also the most crucial one. Medical workers and healthcare professionals spend hours in contact with patients, handling equipment, and generally being exposed to all kinds of germs. By building a strong personal hygiene culture within your organization, you can set the stage for more complex HAI suppression systems. 

Constant Monitoring 

Once you’ve implemented every infection control procedure and contingency into your regular schedule, it’s important to stay on top of it all. Keep monitoring everything and make changes along the way. 

Patient profiles change, meaning that your sanitary needs also change depending on who is receiving treatment in your facility. By staying on top of HAI, you can reduce the risk of transmission to acceptable levels.

Susan Harris

By Susan Harris

Susan Harris is the owner of Rooted Mama Health. She is the mother to two amazing children and wife of a loving husband. She strives to provide the world with all the information they need to live a happy and health lifestyle.