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HHS: Action plan has reduced healthcare-associated infections

April 19, 2012
by Kevin Kolus
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The Department of Health and Human Services posted online today for public comment an updated National Action Plan to eliminate healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), which the agency says have been reduced in hospitals since the plan was introduced in 2009.

The third and final phase of the National Action Plan, to initiate next summer, will focus on long-term care facilities.

Approximately 1 in every 20 hospital patients has an infection each day related to their care, costing the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars annually, HHS noted.

A new state-by-state breakdown by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrates that HAIs in hospitals have been declining since HHS first introduced its National Action Plan. The CDC report also pinpoints specific medical procedures that require stronger infection prevention efforts to maximize patient safety.  

According to the reported data, central line-associated bloodstream infections have declined by 33 percent, surgical site infections have declined by 10 percent and catheter-associated urinary tract infections have declined by 7 percent since the baselines were set.

In addition, invasive Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections have declined by 18 percent, HHS said.

Rates of Clostridium difficile, which kills 14,000 Americans each year and adds an estimated $1 billion in extra costs to the healthcare system, remain historically high, HHS said.

A separate recent CDC report showed that 75 percent of C. difficile infections now begin in medical settings outside hospitals, such as nursing homes and outpatient clinics.

An announcement of the request for public comments on the National Action Plan will be published in the Federal Register the week of April 23, HHS said.

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