Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) affect 5–10 percent of patients (more than 1.7 million) admitted to acutecare hospitals and long-term care facilities annually. The average cost of treating a patient with an HAI is about 100 percent greater than the cost for normal treatment.
Beyond effects on the patients themselves, HAIs also contribute to lower productivity and higher absenteeism in healthcare facility staff and increased use of consumables to treat a pathogen outbreak. All of this translates into an annual direct medical cost of between $35.7 and $45 billion to the healthcare industry, most of which is not reimbursable to hospitals and other facilities.
Despite the alarmingly high number of HAI incidences, at least one-third of these are believed to be preventable. While numerous actions can be taken to reduce incidences of HAIs, their prevention begins with sound building design practices on the part of design professionals. When designing a healthcare facility, plumbing engineers need to be mindful of the practices that promote and hinder the spread of infectious pathogens.