Nosocomial Infection – What Is It and How Do You Get It

A nosocomial infection is contracted because of an infection or toxin that exists in a certain location, such as a hospital.

What is Nosocomial Infection?

Millions of people are admitted to hospitals each year, yet many of them obtain additional infections while in hospital. These types of infections that are obtained within a hospital or other type of healthcare facility are referred to as nosocomial infections. Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 25% of daily hospital patients have one or more infections obtained from a healthcare facility. The data also reports that the most common areas of infection that occurs from acute care hospitals in the United States are related to pneumonia, gastrointestinal illnesses, urinary tract infections, and bloodstream infections. In the year 2011, an estimated amount of 721,800 infections were caused by healthcare facilities within acute care hospitals in the country.

Nosocomial Infection – What Is It and How Do You Get It
Nosocomial Infections. Image/Shutterstock

What are the Types of Nosocomial Infections?

There are different types of nosocomial infections that patients can acquire while at a healthcare facility or hospital. The most common kinds of infections include urinary tract infections, usually due to catheters. Surgery Supplements report that around 20% of all reported nosocomial infections account for infections in the surgical site, following a surgical procedure. They also report that pressure ulcers and lung infections have been observed as well.

Tips for Minimizing Your Health Risk

When it comes to nosocomial infections, it is important to do all in your power to avoid obtaining such an infection. Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection report that there are around 80,000 deaths each year as a result of nosocomial infections. This accounts for as much as 9 deaths per hour caused by infections that were obtained while the patient was hospitalized or treated at a specific healthcare site. To help you reduce your risk of obtaining one (or more) of these dangerous infections, we have prepared a list of useful tips for you.

#1 Hand Sanitization

Medical staff move from patient to patient, thus they are at risk of being a pathogen for spreading these infections. For this reason, it is important to ensure the medical staff attending to you have properly sanitized their hands. You should ask them to wash their hands with a sanitizing soap before they attend to you – or even ask them to wear a new pair of gloves if that makes you more comfortable. Healthline report that as much as 40% of nosocomial infections are caused by inadequate hand sanitization by medical staff – thus the infection is spread from one patient to another.

#2 Prepare for Hospitalization

Patients who know they are going to be admitted to a hospital should do some initial preparation in order to ensure their bodies will be able to heal properly and to ensure their immune systems are strong enough to fight off infections. Here are a couple of tips to help you prepare:

  • If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking a few days before going to the hospital and (optionally) resume after you have been released from the hospital. Data published by the University of Oklahoma Health Center reports that smoking can delay the body’s healing process, especially in the case of skin wounds obtained from surgery.
  • If you are ill or were recently ill before being admitted to the hospital, be sure to mention this to the doctor. Even a slight cold could increase your risk of obtaining an infection in your chest and lungs.
  • If a have diabetes, then you should ensure you eat an adjusted diet for a few days before you are admitted to the hospital. This will help keep your blood sugar levels balanced and reduce your risk of obtaining an infection. Verywell reports that patients with diabetes are more prone to develop infections as high levels of blood sugar cause the patient’s immune system to become weaker.
Hospital Sanitization

#3 Hospital Sanitization

While you are in-hospital, there are numerous ways to reduce your risk of obtaining a nosocomial infection, including COVID-19 and other types of infections. First of all, make sure you take a disinfectant with you to the hospital and disinfect any object you come in contact with – before you make contact. If there are patients who are constantly coughing around you, ask a family member to buy a germ-filtering mask at the local pharmacy – place this over your mouth in order to avoid obtaining germs and bacteria that may be spread through the area.

Better Health also recommends asking visitors who are unwell to delay their visits until they are better. While hospitalized, your immune system may be weaker than normal, thus you are at higher risk of obtaining an infection when people around you are infected. They also recommend washing your hands with a disinfectant hand wash after using the toilet in the hospital and to let a nurse know if there is anything bothering you – such as dressings that are unclean and areas around needles that appear to be unclean.

Common Infections In Emergency Rooms And Urgent Care Units

Infections can come from a variety of things such as blood transfusions, poor health, and the environment. There are a lot of ways that one can get an infection in an emergency room or urgent care unit without being aware of it. The best thing for anyone to do is to ensure that the healthcare facility is reputable and free of complaints about patients acquiring a nosocomial infection during hospitalization or emergency room care.

To find out the best healthcare facility that offers affordable services, you can always find relevant info over the web by typing in inexpensive urgent care near me on the search box of Google or any search engine. But what are the common infections in emergency rooms and urgent care units?

According to an article on an electronic medical record review in Korea, 197 out of 483 patients transferred to the ER were infected with the following:

  • Pneumonia at 52.8%
  • Urinary tract infection at 21.3%
  • Sepsis at 17.8%

Also, according to the said study, patients with an indwelling catheter, fever, and bedsores are the ones who are more likely to visit the ER or stay in urgent care units. They are the ones at risk for contracting a long-term infection.

In addition, it is not enough to treat the underlying infections in long-term care hospitals (LTCHs). Also, transferring poorly managed patients to an acute care hospital ER department can only lead to a quick spread of infection.

Based on the findings of the said study, it is crucial for hospital administrators to enforce strict policies in maintaining cleanliness and regular disinfection. A solid plan must be set in place to comply with health and safety protocols, which should be followed by all workers.


Nosocomial infections account for as much as 80,000 deaths per year, which can be prevented in a large number of cases by simply observing the level of hygiene in the area around you and to act upon the spaces that are not hygienic. These tips we have shared with you will help you minimize the risk of obtaining such an infection while visiting a healthcare facility or while in a hospital.

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Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Dr.Joel Fuhrman Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a family physician, NY Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher.

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