Small Progress Made in Reducing Hospital Infections

A survey funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that hospitals have made some progress in reducing their number of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

The 2015 survey of more than 12,000 patients in 199 hospitals showed that 3.2% of patients experienced a HAI. That's down from a 2011 survey of about 11,300 patients in 183 hospitals which revealed a 4% HAI rate — a reduction of 16%.

While that is a noteworthy improvement, it still means hundreds of thousands of hospitalized patients experience a HAI every year, which could lead to sepsis or death.

The 2015 survey results indicated that the improvement achieved between 2011 and 2015 was largely attributable to reductions in the prevalence of surgical-site infections (SSIs) and urinary tract infections (UTIs), with pneumonia, gastrointestinal infections and SSIs as the most common HAIs reported.

Surveyors advocate for increased prevention strategies against Clostridium difficile infections and pneumonia. Hospitals must also remain diligent in their efforts to consistently follow evidence-based protocols that can help reduce HAIs, such as those associated with hand hygiene, standard and other precautions, and medical device disinfection and sterilization.

In addition, hospitals should ensure that they implement formal antimicrobial stewardship programs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) require, as part of its Conditions of Participation (CoP), implementation of such programs in all hospitals and critical access hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs. These programs are critical to reducing antibiotic-resistant threats that can contribute to HAIs.