Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are unanticipated infections patients acquire during the course of medical treatment at healthcare settings.1 HAIs are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety.2 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year in the U.S. there are more than 1.7 million HAIs, an estimated 5 percent of all hospital admissions, resulting in 99,000 deaths3 and between $28 and $45 billion in extra healthcare costs.4
Prevention Action Plan
The prevention and reduction of HAIs is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and there is growing consensus that the ultimate goal should be its elimination.5 In 2009, HHS developed the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections: Road Map to Elimination (HAI Action Plan) setting reachable HAI prevention goals to be attained by 2013.
Missing the target
Recently, the CDC released the National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Progress Report providing national and state-by-state progress summaries for six major HAI types from acute care hospitals.2 Although the national data shows significant decline in most HAIs, the 2013 goals were not reached.2 The results indicate that greater vigilance, process improvement and adherence is required at every level in the healthcare continuum to further decrease HAIs and improve patient safety.
HAI National Progress Report Results*2
|Infection type||Baseline year||HHS goal||2013 result|
|Central line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI)||2008||50% decrease||46% decrease|
|Surgical site infection (SSI), Abdominal hysterectomy||2008||25% decrease||14% decrease|
|SSI, Colon surgery||2008||25% decrease||8% decrease|
|Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI)||2009||25% decrease||6% increase|
|Clostridium difficile infections (C. difficile)||2011||25% decrease||10% decrease|
|Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (bloodstream infections)||2011||30% decrease||8% decrease|
*Data for the HAI Progress Report was obtained from CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). NHSN is the nation’s most widely used HAI tracking system.
Whereas CLABSI and abdominal hysterectomy SSIs show the greatest reduction; modest progress was made in reducing colon surgery SSIs, MRSA bacteremia and C. difficile infections. On the other hand, the 2013 data revealed an increase in CAUTI, signaling an urgent need for further prevention efforts. However, in 2014, initial data from this cohort indicate that CAUTI have started to decline.2
“The fact that we’re seeing fewer hospital-acquired infections is encouraging, but the failure of hospitals to meet the goals set by the government makes it brutally clear that much more needs to be done,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project.6
It is clear that further steps need to be taken to minimize HAIs in a variety of healthcare settings. Research shows that some HAIs can decrease by more than 70% when all participants within the healthcare continuum are aware of infection challenges and implement patient safety solutions.2 Plus, the financial benefit of using patient safety practices is estimated to be $25 billion to $31.5 billion in medical cost savings.4
The Patient Safety Movement, founded by the charitable organization Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Healthcare, has developed Actionable Patient Safety Solutions (APSS) for HAIs. Implementing APSS recommendations can further reduce HAIs and curtail the enormous burden in healthcare costs, loss of productivity and patient morbidity and mortality.
Align with the ZERO by 2020
The Patient Safety Movement aims to achieve a figure of ZERO by 2020. Hospitals and other healthcare providers and medical technology companies can join the movement to show their commitment to reducing the number of preventable patient deaths from its current annual rate of over 200,000 nationally.7