Hospital Acquired Infections and Superbugs


Building a lesson plan that draws from and explores real-world examples of the subject matter is a great way for teachers to engage their students and generate interest. In this article, we suggest a few ways you can engage your students in germs, using the real-world example of a hospital-acquired infections (HAI). 


The fear of germs is ingrained in our minds from an early age. It emerges from our parents and teachers, who knew that the risk of contamination and disease could be lowered with diligent hygiene practices. We may be in regular contact with other people and germ-laden environments; such as public bathrooms and the classroom. Every surface, including even other people's hands are home to various germs. Students will know that antibacterial soaps, hand sanitise and proper hygiene can prevent the spread of infections and disease-causing organisms. However, many students may not have considered the safety of people unable to properly manage  their own hygiene or exposure to harmful organisms. One such example of this is; hospital patients to ill to take the proper precautions. 

What is an HAI? 

A hospital-acquired infection (HAI), is defined by any infection acquired while staying in a healthcare facility. This growing problem can affect anybody, however young children and the elderly are typically the most susceptible and at the highest risk. Open wounds, surgical sites, or the placement of medical devices, such as catheters and IVs are among the most common causes of infection within hospitals. The leading cause of death and illness in hospital patients is hospital-acquired infections. Fortunately, prevention and treatment of HAIs is improving. Initiatives that minimise pathogen transfer risks and treat HAIs more effectively have had a positive impact on the safety of healthcare systems. 

Connecting HAIs to your classroom 

Task students with conducting research on current HAI issues. Alternatively, you can  provide students with journal or news articles reference material. The aim is to provide students with an introductory understanding of the topic. 

Proper hand sanatation and cleaning- Glitterbug

Using Glitterbug Potion and Glitterbug Powder to test the effectiveness of various sanitises and treatment processes to remove microorganisms on hands and surfaces is a great tool to illustrate the importance of hand and surface sanitation. Develop a scenario that tasks students with lowering the  rate of a hospital's HAIs. They could attempt to implement various protocols that vary the time of treatment or reagents used. This will help to design a procedure that reduces pathogen spread in the hospital. A demonstration of how easily pathogens can be spread between areas in a hospital setting can emphasise the importance of every safety protocol.

Antibiotic resistance and superbugs 

To introduce a more advanced study of HAIs; you can explore the subject of antibiotic resistance and how overuse of antibiotics impacts society. Your students are most likely familiar with the term superbug; which refers to an organism with antibiotic resistance. A great way to understand multi-drug resistance is test against bacteria specimens with antibiotic susceptibility discs or mast rings. Students will be able to engage in hands-on microbiology and understand more about how it applies to their environment. Connecting learning objectives with topical issues generates more excitement in the classroom and develops a stronger recall with the material at test time.