According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health care-associated infections (HAIs) are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. In a 2011 survey of acute care hospitals, the CDC found that on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients had at least one health care-associated infection and about 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. Considering this survey did not take into account HAIs found in other health care settings, such as ambulatory surgery (outpatient) clinics or long-term care facilities, and it is easy to see why infection control is receiving increased scrutiny by those working in the health care industry, as well as the federal government.
When an infection occurs in a health care facility, it is usually very difficult to determine where it came from, as sources may include medical instruments, patients, staff, visitors, as well as the airborne transmission of infectious agents. It is the last point that is of concern to HVAC professionals as they are often tasked with making sure the mechanical equipment is providing the cleanest possible air to the health care facility. This often includes upgrading a facility’s HVAC systems to include advanced filtration, UV lights, precise temperature/humidity control, and proper pressurization.