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About healthcare associated infection

A healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) is an infection that happens after contact with healthcare services.

This is most common after treatment in a hospital, but can also happen after treatment in outpatient clinics, nursing homes and other healthcare settings.

Healthcare-associated infections that are picked up in hospital are also known as "hospital-acquired infections."

How common are healthcare-associated infections?

Healthcare-associated infections (HCAI) affect, on average, 5% of hospitalised patients and 3.6% of patients in long-term care facilities.

Read the statistics on HCAI in hospitals and in long-term care facilities.

Statistics on the occurrence of healthcare-associated infections in Ireland are collated by the HSE's specialist agency for infectious diseases, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre

Common HCAIs

The 5 most common HCAIs are:

  1. Surgical site infection
  2. Pneumonia
  3. Urinary tract infection
  4. Bloodstream infection
  5. Gastroenteritis

Read more information about the 5 most common HCAIs

Healthcare-associated infections and germs

Healthcare-associated infections are caused by germs which include bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Most infections, such as surgical wound and urinary tract infections, are caused by bacteria. These are normally carried harmlessly on a patient's own skin, such as Staphylococcus aureus, or the intestine, such as E. coli.

Many of the germs that cause healthcare-associated infections can be treated by a wide range of antibiotics. However, antibiotic resistant germs are an increasing concern.

Other healthcare-associated infections include:

More information