Nosocomial Infections

A nosocomial infection is an infection that is the result of a pathogen that was acquired in a hospital or clinical care facility. Nosocomial is derived from the Latin word nosocomium, which means "hospital." These are the diseases that a patient can obtain when he or she is being cared for in a hopital. These diseases can also affect the caregivers, such as the hospital staff, nurses, doctors, aides, and even visitors or anyone else who has contact with a hospital or medical facility.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that among the patients that are admitted to hospitals, 5 to 15 percent acquire some type of nosocomial infection. Nosocomial infections result directly in over 20,000 deaths and indirectly in about 60,000 deaths.

Nosocomial disease-causing pathogens come from either endogenous or exogenous sources. Endogenous infections are caused by pathogens that were brought into the hospital by the patient; the opportunistic pathogen is among the patient's own microbiota.

Exogenous infections are caused by organisms that enter the patient's body from the external environment. These organisms can be acquired from animate sources, such as hospital staff, other patients, or people visiting the hospital. Organisms can also come from inanimate sources, like hospital equipment, intravenous and respiratory therapy equipment, catheters, computer keyboards, bathroom fixtures, doorknobs, soaps, and even certain disinfectants.

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