Understanding the risks
Healthcare-associated infection, or nosocomial infection
Nosocomial infections are infections acquired within the hospital; that is, they did not exist before hospitalization. In intensive care units, nosocomial infections affect an average of one in five patients. It is therefore a very common complication that cannot always be avoided.
- A stay in intensive care implies a state of great weakness for the patient. The immune system is weakened, the body does not protect itself as well against bacteria and viruses as when it is healthy, and is therefore more prone to infections.
- Not all patients are equal when it comes to this risk: length of hospitalization, advanced age, combination of several illnesses, chronic disease are all risk factors that can add up.
- Acute pathology that warrants hospitalization in the intensive care unit reduces the body’s natural resistance to infection.
- Finally, the use of certain devices (respirators, catheters, probes, etc.), although necessary, also involves risks. Every day, the balance between the benefits and risks of each device and each treatment is reassessed.
Visits, including those of children, do not expose the patient to the risk of acquiring a nosocomial infection, provided that precautions are followed.
Rest assured that the health care team is doing everything possible to limit these risks. The medical staff is trained to fully comply with hygiene measures and constantly updates these procedures according to official recommendations.
Iatrogenic complications are complications related to the therapies used. While every machine and every drug used in the ICU is necessary to maintain and preserve life, no treatment is without risk. The fragility of resuscitation patients can make them particularly prone to complications, and makes these complications of particular concern. This is why health care teams reassess the need for each treatment and therapy on a daily basis, in order to “wean” the patient off what he or she no longer needs before a complication occurs.