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healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)

infections associated with healthcare given in any setting

nosocomial infections

hospital-acquired infection

chain of infection

process by which infection spreads

normal flora

beneficial microorganisms

transient flora

microbes that a person picks up by coming in contact with objects or another person

resident flora

live deep in skin layers, where they live and multiply


microorganisms capable of causing disease


successful invasion of the body by a pathogen


organism's power to cause disease


source of infection, where pathogens survive and multiply


no symptoms of disease but act as a reservoir for disease and are able to pass on disease

portal of exit

where pathogen exits reservoir

mode of transmission

how a pathogen moves from reservoir to host

direct contact

touching, kissing, sexual intercourse

indirect contact

comes in contact with a contaminated object that transfers pathogen

droplet transmission

when pathogen travels in water droplets expelled from an infected person

airborne transmission

smaller organisms float on air currents


organism that carries a pathogen to a host

portals of entry

where pathogens enter the body

susceptible host

a person at risk for infection


limited region of the body


pathogens invade blood or lymph and spread throughout entire body


clinical presence of bacteria in the blood


symptomatic systemic infection spread via blood

primary infection

first infection that occurs in patient

secondary infection

follows primary infection; chicken pox turns into shingles later on

exogenous healthcare related infections

pathogen is acquired from the healthcare environment

endogenous healthcare related infection

pathogen arises from patient's normal flora, when some sort of treatment causes the normally harmless microbe to multiply and cause infection


rapid onset but last only a short time


develop slowly and last weeks, months, or even years

latent infections

no symptoms for long periods of time, even decades, HIV

incubation stage

stage between successful invasion of the pathogen into the body and the first appearance of symptoms

prodromal stage

characterized by first appearance of vague symptoms

illness stage

stage marked by the appearance of the signs and symptoms characteristic of the disease

decline stage

stage during which the patient's immunes system and meds start to lower number of pathogens

convalescence stage

tissue repair and return to normal health


outbreak of disease that suddenly affects a large group of people in a geographic region or in a defined population group


an exceptionally widespread epidemic; entire country or worldwide

primary defenses

first line of defense; skin, respiratory tree, eyes, mouth, GI tract, genitourinary tract

secondary defenses

phagocytosis, complement cascade, inflammation, fever


process by which specialized white blood cells engulf and destroy pathogens directly

complement cascade

process by which a set of blood proteins triggers the release of chemicals that attack the cell membranes of pathogens, causing them to rupture


process that begins when histamine and other chemicals are released either directly from damaged cells or from basophils in response to activation of complement


rise core body temp

specific immunity

process by which the body's immune cells "learn" to recognize and destroy pathogens they have encountered before

naturally acquired active immunity

when the person is exposed to a live pathogen, develops the disease, and becomes immune as a result of the primary immune response.

artificially acquired active immunity

can be induced by a vaccine, a substance that contains the antigen

Artificially acquired passive immunity

a short-term immunization by the injection of antibodies, such as gamma globulin, that are not produced by the recipient's cells.

Naturally acquired passive immunity

occurs during pregnancy, in which certain antibodies are passed from the maternal into the fetal bloodstream


opportunistic growth or harmful transient pathogens that are normally kept in check

medical asepsis

procedures that decrease the potential for the spread of infections


absence of contamination by disease-causing microorganisms


removal of visible soil from objects and surfaces


removes virtually all pathogens on inanimate objects by physical or chemical means

semicritical items

supplies and equipment that contact mucous membranes or nonintact skin

noncritical items

supplies and equipment that come in contact with intact skin but not mucous membranes


elimination of all microorganisms in or on an object

critical items

supplies and equipment that pose a high risk for infection if the are contaminated with any microorganisms

standard precautions

first tier of protection, apply to care of all patients

transmission-based precautions

second tier of protection, outline precautions to be taken based on the mode of transmission of the infection

sterile technique

creation of a sterile environment and use of sterile equipment

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