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Definition of «Nosocomial»

Nosocomial: Originating or taking place in a hospital, acquired in a hospital, especially in reference to an infection.

The term "nosocomial" comes from two Greek words: "nosus" meaning "disease" + "komeion" meaning "to take care of." Hence, "nosocomial" should apply to any disease contracted by a patient while under medical care. However, "nosocomial" has been whittled down over the years and now just refers to hospitals -- it is now synonymous with hospital-acquired.

If someone in a hospital slips and breaks their hip, could that be a nosocomial fracture of the femur? No way. The only things that are nosocomial these days are infections. Nosocomial infections are ones that have been caught in a hospital.

Since antibiotics have come into common usage, bacteria that are resistant to them have also become common, especially in hospitals, so there are now lots of nosocomial infections.

A nosocomial infection is specifically one that was not present or incubating prior to the patient being admitted to the hospital, but occurred within 72 hours after admittance to the hospital.

A bacterium named Clostridium difficile is now recognized as the chief cause of nosocomial diarrhea in the US and Europe.

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