Turns out, the consequences of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) reach well beyond patients’ physical health, souring social relationships, and leading some healthcare providers (HCP) to distance themselves from affected patients.
HAIs are infections that patients get while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions, and many HAIs are preventable.
Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University conducted a meta-synthesis of qualitative research, looking at 17 studies from five different countries and addressing five common types of HAIs, focusing on patient experiences of both colonization and infection from bacteria that commonly cause HAIs.
According to the analysis, many patients experienced an emotional response to their diagnosis and described ‘feeling dirty,’ ‘having the plague,’ or ‘feeling like a leper.’ While emotional responses varied based on the type of HAI, patients with nearly all colonization or infection types reported a fear of transmitting their infection to others. This fear affected patients’ personal and workplace relationships. Some patients, particularly those colonized by MRSA, also expressed concern about working in certain professions because of their condition and a fear of rejection by coworkers.
Patients who were able to speak to infection preventionists reported receiving constructive information and feeling reassured about their condition, whereas patients who did not, reported feeling dismissed by staff members.
“Having an HAI is a significant event in the patient’s care journey and subsequent life that is influenced by biology, society, and context. Understanding the patient experience can help HCP to interact and respond in a constructive way, providing more effective support during this challenging time in a patient’s healthcare experience,” explained Kay Currie, the lead author of the study.
This qualitative review provides valuable insights into the patient perspective and how healthcare professionals can more effectively interact with their patients to enhance recovery in all areas of their lives.
The findings appeared in the American Journal of Infection Control.