Lack of Ventilation May Raise Hospital-Acquired Infection Risk

Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) can be a serious threat to the health of immune-compromised patients. Some of the causes of infection are more well-known, such as a lack of hygiene on behalf of medical staff or an unsterile environment.

But a new study might have uncovered yet another issue that could increase the risk of infection: closed windows and poor ventilation. This finding was the result of using carbon dioxide to simulate the spread of airborne infections. Not only were researchers the University of Leeds able to detect the level of exposure at each bed, but they also were able to measure the ward’s overall ventilation rate.

Good ventilation could mean less risk of exposure to airborne agents that may cause infection. The study indicated that when windows are closed, exposure to infection was four times higher.

What are common causes of hospital-acquired infections?

In addition to poor ventilation, other conditions may increase risk of injury in a hospital ward. Failure to follow proper sanitation, sterilization, and other guidelines to reduce HAI risk could leave hospitals open to liability.

Some of the most common causes of hospital infections include: 

  • inadequate or improper hand washing;
  • failure to thoroughly clean hospital rooms;
  • cleaning with ineffective antiseptic;
  • hand cleaning/disinfecting hard-to-clean equipment;
  • using unsterile drapes to cover the patient;
  • medical staff wearing unsterile gloves, hats and gowns;
  • using unsterile dressing; and
  • reusing tubes (such as catheters).

Unfortunately, hospital infections can spread rapidly and may lead to a patient’s health worsening. As a result, the patient may be hospitalized longer or may require additional treatment. A longer recovery period and more treatment can result in additional medical expenses and missed time from work.

When someone has suffered serious illness or injury stemming from a hospital infection, the victim or his or her family may consult an attorney to discuss whether medical negligence may have played a role. At Gacovino, Lake & Associates we can review case details and assist clients who are victims of hospital negligence related to HAIs.

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