Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, and contribute to substantial increases in annual healthcare costs. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nearly 75% of HAIs occur in acute care hospital settings. HHS also reports that 25% of HAIs are categorized, in order of prevalence, as catheter-associated urinary tract infections surgical site infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.
Between 2008 and 2013, the incidence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) in U.S. hospitals rose by 6%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During this same period, surgical site infections (SSI) related to 10 specific procedures fell by 19%. As reported in General Surgery News, colon surgery had the smallest reduction in SSI rates at 8%. Coronary, cardiac, and vascular procedures topped the list with SSI reductions of over 40%.
CDC also reported that central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) fell by 46% from 2008 to 2013. Although the prevalence of CLABSI is less than CAUTI or SSI, CDC is especially encouraged by the CLABSI infection-reduction data gathered from more than 14,500 health care facilities. “Hospitals have made real progress,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, in a press release. This includes a 10% reduction in infections caused by clostridium difficile (C. diff), a bacteria that attacks the intestines.
As both CDC and healthcare providers know, there’s more work to be done in reducing HAIs. Every hospital needs a rigorous infection control program to protect patients and healthcare workers. Healthcare facilities and other organizations also need to share information and provide training. As a medical professional, what more can be done to reduce the rate of HAIs, especially SSIs?