Medical Definition of Nosocomial

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

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, common usage of the term "nosocomial" is now synonymous with hospital-acquired. Nosocomial infections are infections that have been caught in a hospital and are potentially caused by organisms that are resistant to antibiotics. A nosocomial infection is specifically one that was not present or incubating prior to the patient's being admitted to the hospital, but occurring 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. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics and may be acquired during hospitalization.

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