Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI)

What are Healthcare Associated Infections?

Healthcare associated infections (HAI) are infections acquired during the course of treatment for other conditions in a healthcare setting.  HAIs are commonly related to devices used in medical procedures, including catheters or ventilators, or infections of surgery sites.  The Orange County Healthcare Agency is working with community healthcare facilities to prevent these infections to improve our community’s health and protect patient safety.

Why Does Antibiotic Resistance Matter?

Healthcare-associated infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria (multi-drug resistant organisms, or MDROs), are of particular concern.   MDRO infections include Methicillin resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Extended spectrum B-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBLs) and Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).  Because they are resistant to many commonly-used antibiotics, MDROs infections are often difficult to treat and pose a higher risk of severe illness.  Antibiotic overuse is a major risk factor for eventually acquiring an MDRO infection.  Hospitalized patients often receive multiple rounds of antibiotics, placing them at particular risk.  In order to prevent MDRO infections, hospitals need to institute measures to prevent antibiotic overuse in their facilities. Hospital staff also need to practice effective infection control measures when patients with MDROs are identified, to prevent their spread to other patients.

Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that has become a serious source of concern for public health officials and hospital staff.  Nationally, antibiotic-resistant organisms cause more than 2 million infections and at least 23,000 deaths each year.  In California these organisms account for over 19,000 infections and 3,000 deaths annually. 

View the Antimicrobial Resistance FAQs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

View Antibiotic Resistance Patient Safety Atlas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What is the Orange County Health Care Agency Doing About Healthcare Associated Infections and Antibiotic Resistance?

In order to combat this growing public health concern, as of July 5, 2016 the Orange County Health Care Agency has made all MRSA, ESBLs, and CRE infections reportable from County hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. Surveillance measures are a critically important component of any MDRO control program and allow OCHCA to monitor epidemiologic trends and measure the effectiveness of interventions.  These surveillance mandates will allow OCHCA to monitor the extent of the problem and prevent the spread of infectious disease in Orange County. 
View the Health Order Mandating reporting of MRSA, ESBLs, and CRE from Orange County hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

Additional Resources

For more information on HAI:

For more information on MRSA:

For more information on CRE: