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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Third polled have had an HAI or know someone who has

A good third of Americans say they either have had a healthcare associated infection (HAI) themselves or know someone who has, according to a survey by a sterilization product manufacturer.

Now hold that thought about bias, I also take such data sources with a box of Morton’s. But this finding sounds about right. Inevitably, when I tell people what I write about they recall someone they know who was infected with something while hospitalized. Indeed, given that some 2 million people aquire an HAI every year and the vast majority survive, you could argue that the results should have been higher. In any case, there was a time – and it was not so long ago – when you had to tell people that infections even occurred in healthcare settings. It was the biggest open secret in medicine. Not anymore, and that’s a good thing.

The survey results released today reveal that 34% of Americans polled have -- or know someone who has -- acquired an HAI. In addition, the survey found that 64% of Americans do not think they would be better protected from germs in the hospital than in their daily lives.

Good for them, it’s best to go into a hospital with an awareness of HAIs, motivated to take an active role in your own infection prevention. It takes a village to prevent these things, so welcome aboard.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Advanced Sterilization Products from April 8-12, 2011 among 2,483 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Respondents for the survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The online survey was not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, contact Katie Sweet at [email protected]