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Hospital Borne Infections and Careful Hand Washing Tactics

By Mariana Ashley

There are several bacteria and fungi that have learned to thrive in our hospitals. Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) are infections that have found a way to better develop and prosper in a hospital setting. These infections are particularly worrisome for health care professionals and patients because they are strong in such vulnerable places of our existence. Many of these bacteria and fungi have developed resistances to antibiotics that were at one point effective on them. Gaining resistance to some of the most commonly useful and effective drugs helps these would be minor infections become a real worry for doctors and patients. 

Part of what makes HAIs such a difficulty is that patients who are in the hospital are typically already in a state of weakened immunity. So, individuals who could normally fight off these infections cannot within the hospital. Many of the bacteria and fungi spores that cause these infections are present on nearly all surfaces throughout a hospital. For this reason, one of the most common ways to transmit these bacteria or fungi to an individual is through poor hand washing. Doctors and nurses who are able to fight off the infections caused by these microorganisms will transmit them to more vulnerable patients through wound care, contaminated instruments, invasive instruments, and more. These two infections are among the most common hospital-acquired infections in hospitals today, each of which can be better prevented with thorough hand washing techniques. 

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

As a form of staph infection, MRSA is one of the more common infections among hospital patients and is also one of the most varied. MRSA comes in many forms and is resistant to any penicillin antibiotic. MRSA most typically presents as a painful skin infection, causing irritated red bumps that look like pimples or bug bites. Other common symptoms associated with MRSA at this stage are fever and other rashes on the skin. These bumps will eventually engulf with white blood cells and the bacteria will attack other parts of the sufferer's immune system. If the infection becomes harsh enough, painful abscesses will have to be cut out of a patient's skin. Healthy individuals can be carrying the MRSA bacteria on them and remain asymptomatic. This makes it very difficult to control. With careful hand washing and anti-microbial practices, MRSA can be more easily managed and prevented. It is still believed that poor hygiene habits of health care professionals are the primary setback for reducing the spread of MRSA.

 Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff)

C. Diff is a bacterium that causes severe intestinal distress and disease within sufferers. This bacterium takes over the intestinal tract of a patient when a course of antibiotics has already eliminated all of the natural bacteria in the gut that would normally fight off the C. Diff strains. C. Diff can result in several very severe infections and illnesses, including colitis, bloating, and potentially life threatening toxic megacolon. While the primary cause of this infection is the improper prescribing of antimicrobials, infection control measures such as careful hand washing and area sanitation can drastically hinder the spread of this illness. C. Diff spores are present on almost any surface throughout the hospital. For this reason, it is essential that doctors, nurses, and visitors use gloves and carefully wash their hands with soap and water to eliminate the transmission of these spores to a more vulnerable host.

 By-line:

Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031@gmail.com.

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