Impact of Foodborne Illness in a Healthcare Setting
Despite well-established safe food handling practices, foodborne illness remains a significant source of morbidity and mortality in the United States1 and represents a strain on the healthcare system. Hospitalized patients are particularly susceptible to foodborne illness with an increased risk of severe complications. Vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, young children, elderly people and people with a weakened immune system as a result of illness, treatment or medication2, have been estimated to comprise around 20% of this population3. With around 9.4 million episodes each year, foodborne illness represents a strain on the healthcare system. An estimated 56,000 people are hospitalized each year due to foodborne illness 4. A high number of patients hospitalized with foodborne illness may represent an epidemiological risk in the healthcare setting due to cross contamination of environmental surfaces and medical devices and/or the unwashed hands of healthcare workers.