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CDC: Hospital acquired infection rates decline significantly

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Hospital acquired infections related to common procedures and difficult bacteria are on the decline according to a pair of newly released reports by the Centers for Disease Control.  As hospitals attempt to reduce the impact of financial quality penalties and increase patient safety, the efforts seem to be paying off with a 44% reduction in the number of central line-associated bloodstream infections between 2008 and 2012 and a 4% decrease in hospital-onset MRSA infections over just one year from 2011 to 2012.

“Our nation is making progress in preventing healthcare-associated infections through three main mechanisms: financial incentives to improve quality, performance measures and public reporting to improve transparency, and the spreading and scaling of effective interventions,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and Chief Medical Officer at CMS. “This progress represents thousands of lives saved, prevented patient harm, and the associated reduction in costs across our nation.”

By surveying individual hospitals and using state and national data to make their assessments, CDC researchers also found a 20% decrease in the number of infections related to ten benchmark surgical procedures in the 2008 to 2012 timeframe and a 2% decrease in hospital-acquired C. difficile infections between 2011 and 2012.

C. difficile is the most common culprit in hospitals, the report found, accounting for 12% of healthcare-related infections.  Staphylococcus aureus, which includes the notorious MRSA, comes in close behind at eleven percent, with E. coli and Enterococcus causing another 18% of infections.

In 2011, there were 722,000 cases of hospital acquired infection, with nearly 75,000 deaths.  This represents a significant reduction from the 1.7 million cases documented in 2002, which resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths.

While the improvements are laudable, says CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, there remains a great deal of work to be done. “Today and every day, more than 200 Americans with healthcare-associated infections will die during their hospital stay,” he said.  “The most advanced medical care won’t work if clinicians don’t prevent infections through basic things such as regular hand hygiene.  Health care workers want the best for their patients; following standard infection control practices every time will help ensure their patients’ safety.”

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