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Kentucky Healthcare-Associated Infection Prevention Program

What is an HAI?

Healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs, are infections people get while receiving health care treatment for another condition. HAIs are one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. Both surveillance (identifying new cases) and prevention activities are vital to reduce the number of patients affected by HAIs.

An HAI is usually caused by a germ such as a bacteria, fungus or virus; but, can also occur as the result of over using antibiotics.

HAIs can happen when needles or tubes are inserted through a person's skin, which is the natural protection against bacteria and other organisms. Insertion of needles and devices provides a pathway for bacteria and other organisms to enter the bloodstream, lungs or other sterile body sites.

HAIs can develop anywhere health care is provided, including hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and outpatient settings such as surgical centers, dialysis centers or physician practices that provide in-office procedures.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get an HAI; however, patients who have lower-than-normal immune systems (the natural ability to fight off infections) are at greater risk. These include newborns and infants, the elderly, patients receiving chemotherapy or other medications that lower the immune system, transplant patients and patients with certain diseases that affect the immune system. Other at-risk groups include patients in intensive care units who may undergo more procedures due to a serious illness.

Common Risk Factors

The most common health care practices that place patients at risk for HAIs are:

  • Using medical devices such as a urinary catheter (Foley  catheter), intravenous line (IV, central line), breathing machine (ventilator), 
  • Surgical procedure (operation), 
  • Health care workers not cleaning their hands, and
  • Using equipment that has not been cleaned or properly disinfected.


Other Resources

For the latest information on Fungal Meningitis, visit the CDC website. Some specific pages and related websites are linked below:

CDC Home Page 


NHSN Home Page

APIC National Home Page

SHEA Home Page

HHS Hospital Compare Home Page

AHRQ Home Page

NQF Home Page


Last Updated 3/27/2018