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The costs of hospital-acquired (nosocomial) and other health care–associated infections are great. It is estimated that these infections affect 1.7 million patients, cost ∼$28–33 billion, and contribute to 99,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals annually. Although efforts to lower infection risks have been challenged by the growing numbers of immunocompromised patients, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, fungal and viral superinfections, and invasive devices and procedures, the viewpoint of consumer advocates—often termed “zero tolerance”—is that almost all health care–associated infections should be avoidable with strict application of evidence-based guidelines for prevention and control (Table 131-1). This chapter reviews health care–acquired and device-related infections as well as basic surveillance, prevention, control, and treatment activities.

Table 131-1 Sources of Infection Control Guidelines and Oversight

The standards of the Joint Commission require all accredited hospitals to have an active program for surveillance, prevention, and control of nosocomial infections. Education of physicians in infection control and health care epidemiology is required in infectious disease fellowship programs and is available by ...

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