Cross infection is the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object, or place to another, or from one part of the body to another (such as touching a staph-infected hand to the eye). When this cross infection occurs in a hospital or long-term care facility it is called a nosocomial infection. Community acquired infections are those contracted anywhere except a hospital or long-term care facility. Description
Cross infection accounts for half of all major complications of hospitalization; the rest are medication errors, patient falls, and other noninfectious events. In American hospitals, cross infection affects between 50% of patients at a cost in excess of $4.5 billion. Further, with the advent of HMOs and incentives for out- patient care, hospitals now have a concentrated population of seriously ill patients, and an even greater risk of cross infection. On one hand, trends toward same-day surgery, shorter hospital stays, and less-invasive surgical techniques will limit patients' exposure to hospital pathogens and invasive devices. On the other, long-term inpatients are likely to be older and sicker, requiring the use of invasive devices in treatment or management of their illness. This places them at increased risk of cross infection, a risk that is higher for public and larger hospitals and teaching institutions. Statistics show that about 35 million patients are admitted to 7,000 acute-care institutions in the United States each year. This means that 1.75 million to 3.5 million patients are infected yearly in the United States. If 10% of all cross infections involve the bloodstream, then 175,000 to 350,000 patients acquire these life-threatening septicemic infections each year. Causes and symptoms
Cross infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites that may already be present in the patient's body, or they may come from the environment, contaminated hospital equipment, health care workers, visitors, or other patients. A localized infection is limited to a specific part of the body and has local symptoms. An infected surgical site, for example, would exhibit an area that is red, hot, and painful. A generalized infection that enters the bloodstream causes general systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, low blood pressure, boils all over the body, or mental confusion. Cross infections can occur from surgical procedures, catheters placed in the urinary tract, intravenous fluid sites, or when moisture droplets from the nose or mouth are inhaled into the lungs. The most common cause of cross infection is the failure of health care workers to wash their hands after taking off latex gloves or before donning a new pair. The most frequent types of cross infections occurring in facilities are urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia, surgical site infections (SSIs), and blood stream infections (BSIs). While all patients within a health care facility are vulnerable to cross infection, some patients are at greater risk than others because certain risk factors alter their susceptibility to infection. Intrinsic risk factors are those present in the patient and include age (the very young or the elderly), presence of chronic disease, or a compromised immune system. Extrinsic risk factors are types of interventions performed within the health care facility and the mix of patients present. Fever is often the first sign of infection; other symptoms include rapid breathing, mental confusion, low blood pressure, reduced urine output, painful joints and muscles, and a high white blood cell count. If there is a skin break it may be red and swollen. Patients with a UTI may have pain when urinating along with cloudy or bloody urine. Symptoms of pneumonia include difficulty breathing, chronic deep coughing, and reluctance to lie flat because it makes breathing difficult. A localized infection causes swelling, redness, and tenderness at the site of infection. Common...