Infection prevention and control

Healthcare associated infections

What is a healthcare associated infection (HCAI)?

HCAI’s (previously known as 'hospital acquired infection' or 'nosocomial infection') are infections that result from healthcare interventions such as medical or surgical treatment, or from being in contact with a healthcare setting including hospitals (in- or out-patient), nursing homes, or even the patient's own home. There are a wide range of HCAI’s, including those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). Other examples include urinary tract infections, pneumonia, respiratory tract infections, surgical wounds (surgical site infection), and bacteraemia (an infection of the bloodstream).

If you are concerned about your health, contact your doctor.

What simple measures can help prevent HCAI?

  • Cleaning hands either with soap and water or in some cases alcohol hand gel to prevent spread between patients
  • Using "personal protective equipment", where necessary, for example, disposable gloves and aprons to prevent contamination of clothing and skin
  • Regular cleaning of the hospital environment to avoid build up of micro-organisms
  • Isolating patients known to be infected with a resistant micro-organism to reduce risk of spread
  • Using antibiotics carefully to minimise the spread of resistant strains and reduce the risk of patients contracting C. difficile infection.

Further information:

Information on national guidance and surveillance programmes from Public Health England can be found here

Information and guidance on HCAI’s from NHS Improvement can be found here

Information on food hygiene: How to prepare and cook food safely