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Why Increased Attention on Healthcare Associated Infection Control is Needed

October 11, 2016

Infection Control

According to the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID), a non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives, hospital infections kill more Americans each year than AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined. As stated by The Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 100,000 people die of a hospital-acquired infection per year, though experts believe the number is actually higher. 

The lack of infection control at hospitals and other medical centers may cause patients to sustain catastrophic injury or death. Many of the surgeries in the United States are performed in ambulatory surgical centers – medical centers that specialize in elective, outpatient, or same-day surgeries.  Yet shockingly, a new study from the Center for Disease Control published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that nearly 68% of these medical centers have lapses in infection control procedures.  Infection control procedures and protocols are some of the most basic requirements of the practice of medicine, and surgery in particular.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)–infections patients can get while receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility–are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety. Together with health care and public health partners, the CDC is working to bring increased attention to HAIs and prevention.

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Here are the top 10 findings and statistics from the CDC’s “Multistate Point-Prevalence Survey of Health Care-Associated Infections“:

  1. In 2011, 4 percent of inpatients at acute-care hospitals had at least one HAI, totaling approximately 648,000 patients with 721,800 infections.
  2. One in 25 patients will contract at least one infection during a hospital stay.
  3. Approximately 75,000 patients with HAIs died during hospitalization.
  4. Pneumonia (HCAP) and surgical site infections (SSI) were the most common HAIs, each accounting for 21.8 percent of all infections.
  5. Gastrointestinal infections accounted for 17.1 percent of all HAIs.
  6. Urinary tract infections totaled 12.9 percent of all infections.
  7. Primary bloodstream infections totaled 9.9 percent of all infections.
  8. Approximately a quarter of all HAIs, 25.6 percent, were associated with medical devices, such as catheter-associated urinary tract infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia and central-catheter associated blood stream infection.
  9. Approximately 43 percent of non-surgical site infections developed within 48 hours of a stay in the critical care unit.
  10. Colon surgeries experienced the highest number of SSIs, at 14.5 percent, followed by hip arthroplasties (10 percent) and small bowel surgeries (6.4 percent).www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/17-statistics-on-hai-incidences-in-2011.ht

Steps can be taken to control and prevent HAIs in a variety of settings. Research shows that when healthcare facilities, care teams, and individual doctors and nurses, are aware of infection problems and take specific steps to prevent them, rates of some targeted HAIs (e.g., CLABSI – Central Line-associated Blood Stream Infection) can decrease by more than 70 percent. Preventing HAIs is possible, but it will take a conscious effort of everyone–clinicians, healthcare facilities and systems, public health, quality improvement groups, and the federal government–working together toward improving care, protecting patients, and saving lives.