Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) have been a hot topic for several decades. An understanding of HAIs should be based on an understanding of the organisms that cause infection and determine prevention. Although some improvements in control in hospitals have been recorded, the community setting is now implicated, and the role of microbiology in diagnosis, detection of carriers and strain typing of organisms is evident. As healthcare systems vary widely, prevention strategies must be designed accordingly. Hand hygiene, however, remains applicable in all settings, and the WHO is strongly promoting alcohol-based hand rubs to interrupt transmission. Some countries are only beginning to develop standards, whereas compliance is obligatory in others. Economics and cost factors are common to all countries, and litigation is increasingly a factor in some.
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