The importance of infection control in the hospitals and clinics is uncontested. These largely preventable infections occur too often and cause unnecessary death to victims who have entrusted health care professionals with their lives. Because of this, in 2006, the World Health Organisation launched a campaign to minimise hospital acquired infections (Hall).
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27). The United States reports perioperative infection caused deaths at 97,000 per year (Schneider, 2006). The Institute of Medicine qualified those results further, estimating that between 44,000 and 98,000 of those reported deaths occurred as a direct result of medical errors (Watson, 2006, p. 22).
Even in England, amidst our own medical facilities where our own health care professionals practise stringent infection control, these preventable infections occur far too often. Recently, Britain's most senior doctor, Sir Liam Donaldson, reported death risk due to medical error at 1 in 300 (Hall). This includes patients having contracted infections within the hospital settings. "Between 5% and 10% of patients admitted to modern hospitals in the developed world acquire one or more infections, with at least 5,000 deaths directly attributed to healthcare-acquired infections in England each year" (Hall, 2006).
Older people are a specific demographic at risk for perioperative infections due to their higher incidence of diabetes and hypertension, and their immunological systems particularly susceptible to the adverse affects of prolonged smoking and obesity. While caring for elderly patients and assessing their likelihood at incurring surgery-related infections, there are a number of risk factors that should be assessed. Infection control entails hospital procedures both prior to surgery and utilisation of infection control programmes throughout surgery. There are also specific practises for complex procedures maintained in orthopaedics and cardiothoracic surgeries by Multi Disciplinary Teams. All hospital personnel must take care to follow infection control procedures and be aware of avenues and risk factors for infections, in order that older patients are cared for effectively and their infections prevented.
Risk factors in older people
Older people are more at risk from infection during hospitalisation due to their oftentimes immunological compromised status. Immunological debility in elderly patients arises in a variety of settings for multiple reasons. It has been shown that arriving to surgery from elderly health-care facilities is a significant indicator of perioperative and postoperative infection (Lee, 2006). This is logical due to the very fact that health-care facilities house the most compromised patients in the older persons demographic. To explain this further, it is certain that patients with diabetes, overweight patients, and obese patients have an increased risk of infection (Preventing, 2006). Likewise, poor nutrition and lack of activity cause patients to be immunocompromised.
But it is not only older patients in health care facilities that warrant attention from the health industry. Studies show than anyone above 60 year of age may be at a higher risk of perioperative infection (Pugliese, 2005). The National Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths (NCEPOD) maintains a practise of reviewing data reported on specific demographic groups each year. The NCEPOD's work is the collection of information on patients who die within 30 days of a surgical procedure (Kmietowicz, 1999, p. 1324). Due to the seemingly unnecessary incidence of death among the aging demographic, the 1999 report specified more care for the elderly. This prudent step seems
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