They occur in hospitals and in the community; and affect both patients and healthcare employees. There are numerous causes of HCAI, but they are most frequently caused by the contaminated hands of healthcare workers, contaminated medical devices, and a failure of staff to comply with local policies, procedures and guidelines.
Every year at least 300,000 patients contract a HCAI, and it is estimated that approximately 1 in 10 patients pick up an infection during their stay in a UK hospital. These infections are often difficult to treat and they can complicate illnesses, cause distress to patients and their family, and in some cases may even result in death.
If a patient gets a HCAI, it may:
- Make their existing medical condition worse
- Prolong their stay in hospital
- Cause the patient distress, depression and stress
- Lead to a loss of earnings; and
- Reduce the patients chances of a successful recovery.
On average, patients with a HCAI have been found to be approximately 7 times more likely to die in hospital than uninfected patients. It is estimated that as many as 5,000 patients die every year in the UK as a direct result of HCAI and it is one of the factors in a further 15,000 deaths.
As well as affecting patients, HCAI is also a severe burden on the NHS. These infections are costing the NHS an estimated £1 billion a year and they are having a major impact on the availability of beds because infected patients have to spend, on average, an extra 11 days in hospital. Furthermore, infected patients cost 3 times more to treat than uninfected patients and infections are becoming complicated to treat because of an increase in antimicrobial resistance.
Some of the other costs to the NHS include an increased staff workload and treatment for staff; As a result of this, infection control is a key priority within UK hospitals with a series of challenging targets in place under regular assessment.
The NHS is working to improve privacy and dignity for their patients as a key priority during the coming years; over the past year they have invested over £1.6 billion to improve the ‘patient experience’ on hospital wards throughout the UK. LC SmartGlass is the ideal solution for hospital interiors as it creates a safe environment, protecting patients from HCAI’s whilst at the same time preserving a high degree of patient dignity by way of privacy control.
Through continued studies it has been proven that sheer, easily cleaned surfaces are essential in hospitals in order to reduce the risks associated with the spread of “super bugs” such as CDIFF and MRSA. LC SmartGlass provides the ideal solution offering a sheer, easily cleaned surface to replace traditional blind systems which are often difficult to clean and high risk in terms of harbouring dirt and bugs. This greatly facilitates the deep cleaning process as a considerable amount of time is saved compared to traditional cleaning techniques.
Using a minute electrical current, users can immediately switch the LC SmartGlass from clear to private (opaque) and vice versa. LC SmartGlass can be manufactured and supplied to suit varying healthcare requirements such as fire rated, x-ray proof and impact resistant. When the electrical supply is switched on, the liquid crystal molecules align and incident light passes through and the LC SmartGlass panel instantly clears.
A selection of LC SmartGlass case studies specializing in the hospitality sector are available to download on www.smartglassinternational.com.