Despite efforts to maintain sanitary conditions, a stay in the hospital may expose you to disease-causing agents that you would not have encountered otherwise. The name for the sickness that can result is a hospital-acquired infection, also known as an HAI or a nosocomial infection, which comes from the Greek word for “hospital.”

According to Healthline, even if you eventually recover from a hospital-acquired infection, it may mean a longer stay at the facility, which means increased expenses. HAIs may carry an increased risk of mortality. Approximately 10% of all hospital patients develop nosocomial infections.

What are the causes of HAI?

Potential causes of hospital-acquired infections include viruses, fungi and bacteria. Common bacterial culprits include Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Exposure to antibiotics can cause bacteria to develop resistance which can make a nosocomial infection more difficult to treat.

Which HAIs occur most frequently?

Common types of hospital-acquired infections include the following:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Surgical site infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Nosocomial infections can affect different areas of the body depending on the pathogen involved and how it got into the body. Because the category of HAIs includes multiple illnesses, symptoms often vary but may include fever, nausea vomiting or wound discharge.

What are the diagnostic criteria for HAI?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell whether your sickness relates directly to your hospitalization or has another cause. The diagnosis of a hospital-acquired infection depends on certain criteria. First, you must have entered the facility for a problem other than the infection. Symptoms must show up within 30 days of a surgical operation, within three days after discharge from the hospital or within 48 hours of admission.