Intensive Care

Author(s):
Nancy Harless, MPH, BSN IC Practitioner

Gaston Memorial Hospital
Gastonia, NC

Published:
October 3, 2014

Abstract

Of all licensed hospital beds in the United States, only about 8 percent are intensive care unit beds.1However, the prevalence of healthcare-associated infections has been reported to be much greater in critically ill patients than in the general hospital population.2Hospitals, especially intensive care units, now deal with a cohort of patients who are most vulnerable to infection as a result of several factors, including advanced age, aggressive medical interventions, the shift to outpatient treatment, and improved survival of patients with underlying diseases, immunocompromised states, transplantation, and implanted foreign bodies. Risk factors for infection in the intensive care unit patient include impaired host defenses, extremes of age, and impaired nutritional status. Surveillance for healthcare-associated infections is an important element of an infection prevention and control program in the intensive care unit as an indicator of success.