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HAI: an increasing concern

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Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are an increasing concern due to increased costs of medical care. Over the past years (from 2007 to 2014) there has been a push for hand hygiene compliance from CDC and WHO. Despite these efforts there remains low compliance to hand hygiene standards and indicates that additional measures are needed to continue to reduce HAIs.

A system approach to combating HAIs is needed that expands beyond simple hand hygiene compliance. The patient environment of care needs to be considered in order to provide a comprehensive solution to HAIs. This solution will continue to improve on hand hygiene, increase monitoring of environmental surfaces, introduce novel disinfection techniques, and utilise embedded antimicrobials.

The Role of Antimicrobials in the Healthcare Environment

There is tremendous scrutiny given to antimicrobial usage in healthcare settings. Additionally, there are ongoing debates about the use of antimicrobials for healthcare within governmental agencies, industry and academia. It must first be acknowledged that there are 3 types of antimicrobials that are sometimes confused and inappropriately interchanged.

These three classes of antimicrobials have different end uses and microbial targets. The three classes of antimicrobials are:

  1. Antibiotics: utilised for treating patients with microbial based infections.
  2. Disinfection antimicrobials: antimicrobials utilised in liquid or wipe applications that deliver high kill rates quickly but provides discontinuous microbial reduction.
  3. Embedded antimicrobials: antimicrobials utilised for product preservation, odour control and the control of stain causing microorganisms and can offer continuous microbial reduction on a material.


There are multiple avenues that can lead to a reduction in HAI rates. These include adherence to strict handwashing regimens, vigilance over patient care, and care of the patient environment. Only by impacting all three areas of the healthcare ecosystem will a significant reduction in HAI rates be obtained.

Embedded antimicrobials have a role to play, along with disinfectants, in reducing bioburden in the patient environment. Embedded antimicrobial companies are engaging with researchers to initiate studies demonstrating the ability to integrate antimicrobial surfaces into an infection prevention strategy.

Read about: Antimicrobials-In-Healthcare