A hospital is a high-density population of unusually susceptible people, into which the most virulent and antibiotic-resistant microbial pathogens are continually introduced. Nosocomial infections may originate from other patients, the hospital environment, medical personnel, or the patient's own normal flora. Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures can potentially transmit infectious agents. The most important steps in preventing nosocomial infections are to first recognize their occurrence and then establish policies to prevent their development.
■ Explain why an intravenous catheter can pose a risk to a patient.
■ Describe two ways in which infectious agents can be transmitted to a patient.
■ The rate of nosocomial infections is often relatively high in emergency room settings. Explain why this might be so.
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