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December 10, 2018

Healthcare Associated Infections

Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are infections that patients develop while they are receiving healthcare treatment for other conditions. These infections happen in hospitals, long-term acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and outpatient clinics.  

HAIs are caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and are often associated with medical devices. Some of the bacteria are multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO); click here to go to the Antibiotic Resistance page.

Healthcare Associated Infections

Many Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) cause significant morbidity and mortality, particularly among those who have a weakened immune system, elderly, or vulnerable populations. Idaho’s HAI Program is working with healthcare facilities to improve patient safety by improving infection prevention knowledge and practice.

Categories of HAI infections include:

An estimated 5-15% of all hospitalized patients experience an HAI. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that approximately 2 million infections and 90,000 deaths are contracted in U.S. healthcare facilities yearly, resulting in an estimated $4.5 billion in excess medical costs.To learn more about HAIs, please visit the CDC’s page on HAIs.  

Transmission of organisms that cause HAIs can occur in many ways: caregiver-to-patient, environment-to-patient, or patient-to-patient. Programs that have been successful in reducing HAIs have made this a strategic imperative and generally focused on improving multiple interventions, such as hand hygiene, use of contact and other precautions, active screening, and robust decontamination rather than relying on a single approach.

If you or a loved one is hospitalized, there are steps you can take to lower the risk of an HAI. 

  • Make sure you wash your hands.

  • Ask the hospital staff to do the same before and after they provide care, such as changing bandages.

  • Tell the nurse if you notice that bandages are not clean, dry, or attached around wounds.

  • Tell your friends and family members to avoid hospital visits if they have a cold or aren't feeling well.

  • Don't be afraid to speak up.

  • See the Ten Things You Can Do to Be a Safe Patient for more information on steps to take when hospitalized.


The Idaho Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Advisory Group is made up of infectious disease physicians, infection preventionists, registered nurses, microbiologists/laboratory professionals, community partners, and public health. The purpose of this group is to make recommendations for Idaho's HAI Program in regards to HAIs and antibiotic resistance.  


Sepsis is a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. It is difficult to predict, diagnose, and treat. Patients who develop sepsis have an increased risk of complications and death and face higher healthcare costs and longer treatment.

What can you do to prevent Sepsis?

1.  Get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia, and any other vaccinations your doctor recommends.

2.  Prevent infections that can lead to sepsis by: 

* Cleaning scrapes and wounds as directed by your doctor

* Practicing good hygiene (for example, hand washing)

* Know that TIME MATTERS! If you have a severe infection, look for signs like: 

- shivering, fever, or very cold

- extreme pain or discomfort

- clammy or sweaty skin

- confusion or disorientation

- short of breath, rapid breathing, and high heart rate.

If you have signs of sepsis, contact/visit your doctor immediately.  

 One Needle, One Syringe, Only One Time. Safe Injection Practices Coalition.

About the Campaign

The One & Only Campaign is a public health campaign, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Safe Injection Practices Coalition (SIPC), to raise awareness among patients and healthcare providers about safe injection practices. The Campaign aims to eliminate infections resulting from unsafe injection practices.


For more information, please visit the One & Only Campaign website.

EQuIP Program

The EQuIP (Education, Quality, and Infection Prevention) Program provides healthcare facility staff with educational support to improve infection prevention, antimicrobial stewardship, quality of care, and quality improvement through education, mentorship, collaborative learning, and data sharing.

The EQuIP model was created by Qualis Health, with funding from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), and local chapters of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC). The program has expanded from its original focus on critical access hospitals, to include long term care facilities and outpatient settings. Idaho's HAI Program is partnering with the Washington Department of Health to provide these resources to Idaho facilities.

For more information, please select the program that you are interested in:

EQuIP for Critical Access Hospitals (CAH)

EQuIP for Long Term Care Facilities (LTC)

EQuIP for Ambulatory Care Clinics (ACC)

Qualis Health's Archived webinars: EQuIP for Critical Access Hospitals


Questions or comments?

Susan Heppler, RN, BSN

Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Program Manager

Idaho Division of Public Health

450 W State Street, 4th Floor

Boise, ID 83720-0036

Office: (208) 334-5871