Hospitals Make Progress Toward Reducing Some Infections: CDC

October 20, 2011

October 20, 2011 — US hospitals in 2010 made impressive strides toward reducing the incidence of central line–associated bloodstream infections and 3 other iatrogenic infections, but not so for Clostridium difficile infections, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today.

The progress report comes midway in a 5-year campaign that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched in 2009 to lower the incidence rate of health care–associated infections. HHS set 9 targets for hospitals to hit by 2013 for infection reduction and adherence to prevention practices. So far, hospitals are on track to achieve 6 of the 9 targets, according to the CDC.

One of those 6 goals is lowering the incidence of central line–associated bloodstream infections by 50%. The agency reports a 33% reduction in 2010 from the baseline period. Likewise, by 2010, hospitals achieved:

  • A 7% reduction from baseline in catheter-associated urinary tract infections (the goal is 25%);

  • A 10% reduction in surgical-site infections, also targeted for a 25% drop; and

  • An 18.2% reduction in invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, which HHS wants to lower by 50%.

Bravo for Better Hand-Washing

Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have enjoyed more success preventing these infections by strictly observing best practices in infection control. The 5-year HHS action plan set goals for these routines, too, and the CDC says clinicians are well on their way to reaching them. For example, central-line insertion guidelines call on clinicians to properly wash their hands beforehand, don sterile apparel, use a recommended antiseptic to prepare the patient's skin, and make sure the antiseptic is dry before insertion. Through the first 8 months of 2011, hospitals reported 95.7% adherence to these rules, up from 92.2% in 2009. HHS is aiming for 100% adherence.

The CDC said hospitals are also likely to achieve perfection when it comes to following guidelines for preventing surgical-site infections.

One source of frustration are C difficile infections. HHS wants to reduce C difficile–triggered hospitalizations by 30%. However, hitting that target on schedule is unlikely, officials say, given how the incidence rate rose by 6.8% in 2010 compared with a baseline of 8.8 hospitalizations with C difficile per 1000 discharges in 2008.

In a press release, CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said that hospitals and state health departments need to translate the progress they have achieved with other iatrogenic infections to C difficile.

More information about the national war on health care–associated infections is available on the CDC Web site.

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