Infection control

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) constitute a major health problem in the intensive care unit (ICU). They concern 5% to 10% of hospitalised patients in European and American acute care hospitals (Vrijens et al. 2008;Yokoe et al. 2008), and can lead to additional complications in up to 33% of those admitted to the ICU (Eggimann and Pittet 2001).

Recently, the significant physical, social, psychological and economic burdens they cause have increased both government and public awareness of the importance of their prevention (Vandijck et al. 2007a.Vandijck et al. 2007b). This increasing alertness is reflected by the current trend towards holding each hospital employee accountable for his or her personal responsibilities regarding infection control, and by the tendency to consider HAIs avoidable medical errors (Jarvis 2007,Yokoe and Classen 2008).

Also, in the United States, performance measures of HA1 prevention have been integrated into regulatory and reimbursement systems, thereby illustrating the growing consensus that many HAIs are preventable, and that their prevention is a new healthcare imperative (Harbarth et al. 2003;Yokoe and Classen 2008).