Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a well-known danger in the industry, but a new study suggests such illnesses may be a bigger burden than diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
The researchers examined European infection rates for four HAIs: healthcare-associated urinary tract infection, surgical site infection, healthcare associated Clostridium difficile infection, healthcare-associated neonatal sepsis, healthcare-associated pneumonia and healthcare associated primary bloodstream infection, according to the study, and estimated more than 2.6 million cases of such infections across Europe each year.
The team measured the burden of such infections in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost and found the cumulative number was greater than 32 other diseases included in a previous study, the Burden of Communicable Disease in Europe project. They found that HAIs put a burden of about 2.5 million DALYs on the industry in the European Union each year, according to the study, which was published in PLOS Medicine.
The findings, according to the research team, prove that more can be done in healthcare infection control across Europe. The authors note that their study may be the first time a team of researchers has sought to measure the specific burden of HAIs, and continued to research is important, as healthcare-associated infections are very common. The study estimates that as many as one in 20 people are afflicted with one.