Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs) were initially called Hospital Acquired Infections until the dangerous bacteria left the hospitals and became established in the communities. Rather than preventing the ‘leak’ which was allowing them to escape hospitals, it was apparently easier to rename them and accept the problem had escalated.

Tens of thousands of people die from these infections every year around the developed world. They were people who entered hospitals with every expectation of coming out in better health. But they died. To Dr Farmer these HCAIs should be seen as needless infections. There are many stated reasons why they happen but embarrassingly few procedures to address those reasons. The Infection Control Profession is now custodian to a very sad track record. Failing paradigms have become best practices and patients continue to die from needless infections.

The good news is that the Infection Control Professionals (ICPs) are achieving successes in reducing the number of such needless infections. Some even say they are half way there, and a reduction of 50% must be good news. From their perspective it is. The sad news is that even a 50% reduction still leaves many thousands of newly bereaved families every year. For those families there is little consolation in the fact that someone else survived. To them, their family member is dead and that’s what matters.


Dr Harley Farmer has managed to break infection cycles in every setting where he has been given permission to approach all the factors which lead to the infections. His Systems Approach has as strong commercial basis saving money, both immediately and long-term. A hospital Board that genuinely wants to break the infection cycles can do so very easily. That means any hospital Board that still has these needless HCAIs has not begun to genuinely want the cycles broken. They may talk about it and even allocate a lot of money but if they are still losing patients they have chosen to not instigate an effective Systems Approach. A way out of that situation is available.