Health care associated infections
Produced in partnership with Joel Donovan QC of Cloisters
Health care associated infections

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note produced in partnership with Joel Donovan QC of Cloisters provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Health care associated infections
  • What is a health care associated infection?
  • Sources of infection
  • MRSA
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Establishing liability in health care associated infection claims
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Statutory controls—the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
  • Post-1 October 2013
  • More...

What is a health care associated infection?

The Health Protection Agency (now part of Public Health England) defined health care associated infections (HCAIs), in guidance issued in 2012, as including any infection contracted:

  1. as a direct result of treatment in, or contact with, a health or social care setting

  2. as a direct result of health care delivery in the community

  3. as a result of an infection originally acquired outside a health care setting (eg in the community) and brought into a health care setting by patients, staff or visitors and transmitted to others within that setting (eg norovirus)

There is a (very similar) legal definition in section 20(6) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (HSCA 2008):

  1. ‘health care associated infection’ means any infection to which an individual may be exposed or made susceptible (or more susceptible) in circumstances where:

    1. (a) health or social care is being, or has been, provided to that or any other individual, and

    2. (b) the risk of exposure to the infection, or of susceptibility (or increased susceptibility) to it, is directly or indirectly attributable to the provision of that care

See also guidance from NHS Improvement.

Sources of infection

Many organisms that cause HCAIs form part of a person’s natural flora, ie the organisms that colonise them normally. Humans will be host to many microbe colonies (Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in the mouth, for example)

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