The Unwanted Visitor
Nadia Christensen, MD
Unfortunately, it happens all the time. You take your elderly father into the hospital for a routine surgery such as a total hip replacement, and while being treated for the hip, he ends up with a Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC). Think of an HAC as your bothersome Aunt Ethel, an unwanted house guest who shows up when you least expect her, bringing in suitcases full of complications, and leaving a trail of havoc in her wake. Simply stated, an HAC is a potentially avoidable infection or complication that occurs while a patient is hospitalized for an unrelated condition. Years ago, people referred to these conditions as Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) or nosocomial infections. However, today many preventable conditions, which are not infections such as pressure ulcers or DVTs, have been added to the list and term broadened to HACs.