August 9, 2013


5 Common Types of Healthcare-Acquired Infections

HAIs. Healthcare-Acquired Infections. HCAIS. Healthcare-Associated Infections. Hospital-Associated Infections.

No matter which specific terminology you use, it sounds ominous right? “HAI” (I like this way best, I hope you don’t mind) is kind of a blanket term, encompassing any infection you get in a healthcare facility while being treated for something else.

But HAIs come in many shapes and forms. Some have symptoms you can see, some have symptoms you can feel, some are in your blood, some are in your lungs, some are easy to treat, some are more difficult…

Confused yet? I know I am. I can barely keep my coworkers’ names straight, much less differentiate between specific infections.

So to help us all out, I did a little research on the CDC website and found these 5 Common Types of HAIs. There are quite a few more variations and details, but this gives us someplace to start. So study up, you might be tested on these later 🙂

  1. Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (aka Catheter-Associated Bloodstream Infection or CLABSI)


  • Central line/central venous catheter= a tube placed in a patient’s vein to draw blood or administer fluids and medication; empties out near the heart

Contracting CLABSI: Bacteria travels down the tube into blood

Symptoms: fever, chills, soreness or redness around the catheter

Treatment: antibiotics, removal of catheter


  • Don’t use catheter any longer than necessary
  • Make sure your healthcare providers and visitors are following correct hand hygiene rules
  • Don’t let visitors touch catheter
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if the bandage comes off or becomes dirty or wet

 2. Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (aka CAUTI)


  • Urinary catheter= tube used to drain the bladder

Contracting CAUTI: Germs travel through catheter into urinary tract

Symptoms: burning/pain in lower abdomen, fever, burning during urination, more frequent urination, bloody urination

Treatment: antibiotics, removal/change of catheter


  • Don’t use catheter longer than necessary
  • Clean hands before and after touching catheter
  • Make sure urine bag is below level of bladder
  • Don’t tug, pull, or twist catheter tubing

3. Surgical Site Infection (aka SSI)


  • Surgical site= part of body where surgery took place; where incision was made

Contracting SSI: germs enter body through surgical site

Symptoms: redness/pain around surgical site, drainage/cloudy fluid around surgical wound, fever

Treatment: antibiotics, possibly more surgery


  • Make sure doctor is aware of your medical background
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t shave before surgery
  • Don’t allow visitors to touch wound or bandages
  • Make sure healthcare providers and visitors are following proper hand hygiene rules

4. Ventilator-Assoicated Pneumonia (aka VAP)


  • Ventilator= used to help patient breathe; tube is placed in mouth, nose, or a hole in the neck and connected to ventilator machine

Contracting VAP: germs travel through tube into lungs

Symptoms: coughing, fever, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, shortness of breath, chills, chest pain

Treatment: Antibiotics


  • Don’t smoke
  • Ask for hospital bed to be raised to 30-45°
  • Make sure healthcare providers and visitors are following proper hand hygiene rules
  • Clean the inside of your mouth regularly

 5. Clostridium Difficile (aka C. diff.)


  • C. diff= type of germ

Contracting C. diff:

  • Found in feces
  • Can be transmitted person-to-person or through contaminated surfaces (spores can survive outside the body for long periods of time)
  • Usually affects people on antibiotics

Symptoms: watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain


  • Take only antibiotics prescribed to you
  • Make sure you, your healthcare providers, and any visitors are following proper hand hygiene rules

Getting into the nitty gritty details of infections isn’t exactly a feel-good Friday activity. But I think, and I’m sure you feel the same way, it’s much better to read about something like Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia and learn the facts that way than to get it in real life and learn the hard way.


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Filed under Daily Blog Posts, Gimme Five Friday, Healthcare Acquired Infections

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