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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Key HAIs falling, major challenges remain

Infection preventionists, take a (brief) bow:

Key HAIs falling, major challenges remain

The needle is beginning to move. Four key healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are declining nationally as the result of unprecedented interest and action that includes everything from sweeping state and federal collaboratives to the outrage of individual patients.

No matter who gets the credit, this is a victory for infection prevention.

“I want to especially congratulate the infection preventionists,” said Denise Cardo, MD, director of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I want them to share this information with their institutions because this is a reflection of successes that are happening in their hospitals. I really want them to use the data to show the progress.”

Don Wright, MD, MPH, deputy assistant secretary for Healthcare Quality at the HHS, went even farther, essentially calling for hospitals to free up IPs to get out on the wards and prevent more infections.

“These are talented individuals and the less time that they can spend in actually recording the data, the more time they have to work with providers and units within the hospital to teach them the appropriate practices to reduce these infections,” he said. “Just the burden of [HAI] reporting is a huge challenge for infection preventionists. We are hoping as we see the increase in electronic health records that much of the data that is needed for surveillance will be ascertained through [these systems].”

Cardo and Wright discussed the HAI data at a today at a summit and panel discussion in Washington, DC to mark the 2011 International Infection Control Week. CDC surveillance data for 2010 show reductions in four critical HAIs:

  • A 33% reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infections. This included a 35% reduction among critical care patients and a 26% reduction among non-critical care patients.
  • A 7% reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections throughout hospitals
  • A 10% reduction in surgical site infections
  • An 18% reduction in the number of people developing healthcare-associated invasive methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections
The data were submitted by hospitals to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network. The number of infections reported was compared to a national baseline. All of the infections reported have national prevention target goals in the HHS “Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections.”

“For surgical site infections, the goal by 2013 is 25%, and right now we have a 10% decrease nationally,” Cardo said. “And for catheter-associated urinary tract infections the goal is also 25% by 2013 and we have a 7% decrease.”

For more on this important story see the November 2011 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention