According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four common infections seen in health care facilities declined in 2010. The CDC staff detailed the reduction rates of infections throughout U.S. hospitals in a policy summit entitled, “Spreading Success: Encouraging Best Practices in Infection Prevention” at the National Journal in Washington D.C. on October 19. The summit was hosted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. commented:

“Hospitals continue to make impressive progress in driving down certain infections in intensive care units through implementation of CDC prevention strategies. Hospitals and state health departments need to translate this progress to other areas of health care delivery and health care infections, such as dialysis and ambulatory surgery centers, and diarrheal infections such as Clostridium difficile.”

Hospitals presented their data to the National Healthcare Safety Network, the CDC’s health care infection monitoring system, where the amount of reported infections was compared with a national baseline. All reported infections are subject to national prevention target goals defined in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections.

The CDC reports the following reductions in infections for 2010:

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections were reduced by 33%: with a 35% reduction amongst critical care patients and a 26% reduction of non-critical care patients. A central line, or central venous catheter (CVC) is a catheter placed into a large vein in the neck, chest or groin to administer medication or fluids and obtain blood tests. When inserted incorrectly or unclean, germs can freely enter the body causing serious infections of the bloodstream
  • Urinary tract infections due to catheters have been reduced by 7% throughout hospitals
  • Surgical site infections are 10% lower
  • Invasive methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections linked to health care were noted in 18% fewer patients

The CDC also observed improvement in health care provider adherence to proven infection prevention measures. More than 94% adhered to using appropriate techniques for inserting central line catheters. At present the CDC is tracking two additional infections, Clostridium difficile infections and MRSA bloodstream infections. Data will be available next year.

Denise Cardo, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion stated:

“These successes reflect investments not only in hospital practices, but in our national and state public health capacity. Preventing infections in health care saves lives and reduces health care costs.”

In the U.S. the CDC plays a unique role in preventing infections linked to healthcare:

  • CDC provides real-time data at local, state, and national levels by tracking infections linked to health care through the National Healthcare Safety Network
  • Clinicians use valuable checklists based on CDC guidelines to prevent health care-associated infections and improving care
  • It responds to disease outbreaks in health care settings, providing health care facilities and states with resources to prevent future incidents
  • CDC laboratories provide ‘gold-standard’ testing for existing and emerging infectious threats to health care

With support of the CDC, the Partnership for Patients initiative prevents health care-acquired conditions by focusing on the protection of patients in U.S.’s health care facilities. The goal of federal initiatives, such as the Partnership for Patients and the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections is to speed up the prevention progress that is currently taking place throughout the country.

For a detailed summary of the CDC report click here.

Written by Petra Rattue