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4 risks for hospital-acquired infections

When you think of hospitals, you probably consider them to be clean and sanitary. Usually, this is the case, but sometimes a missed cleaning regime can lead to a hospital-acquired infection (HAI).

An HAI is an infection that you pick up during your stay in the hospital. If the infection was incubating at your admission, it does not count as an HAI even if symptoms developed during your visit. Some patients are at greater risk for HAI than others. StatPearls describes factors that can increase your risk.

1. Frequent visits to a health care facility

If you make frequent visits to a hospital or other health care facility, there is more chance for exposure to infectious pathogens. People who make fewer visits have less risk of exposure.

2. Length of stay in the hospital

Similarly, if you have an extended stay in the hospital, there is more opportunity for pathogens present in the facility to infect you.

3. Stay in the intensive care unit

The intensive care unit in the area of the hospital treats people with the most severe health issues. You are more likely to contract an HAI from a stay in the ICU than from another area of the hospital.

4. Indwelling devices

An indwelling device is a medical apparatus that remains chronically in your body, such as a catheter or a feeding tube. While necessary to your treatment, an indwelling device can also provide a path for bacteria to follow directly into your body.

An HAI may be more serious than it would be if you acquired the infection elsewhere. Bacteria in a hospital setting have sometimes developed resistance to the antibiotics typically used to treat such infections.