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HHS: Long-term care is the next step in national plan to combat infections

July 27, 2012
by pamela tabar
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The Department of Health & Human Services yesterday released the draft long-term care chapter in the “National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections: Roadmap to Elimination” (HAI Action Plan).

Infection Facts

  • One in 20 U.S. hospitalized patients will acquire a HAI.
  • In nursing homes, the most commonly reported HAIs are urinary tract infections, lower respiratory tract infection, skin and soft tissue infections  and gastroenteritis (including C.difficile).
  • <10% of the current Infection Preventionists in LTC have any specific infection prevention and control training or certification compared to >95% of their counterparts in acute care.
  • One of the most widely available and effective means to keeping residents healthier is an annual vaccination for influenza and pneumonia.

Source: HHS: HAI Action Plan, Long-term Care

The plan identifies Clostridium difficile and urinary tract infections (UTIs) as the top priorities for a concerted reduction effort, since these infections are “nationally burdensome, due to high prevalence and/or high cost, and known to be preventable through implementation of evidence-based care practices,” the document states.

The document proposes multiple strategies for control of HAIs, including additional data-gathering protocols, revised application of practice guidelines and new quality initiatives that encourage the highest levels of infection control.

Historically, the data on LTC infection rates has been skewed toward SNFs and nursing homes since too little data was available from other sectors such as assisted living and independent senior living communities.

The plan urges all LTC-related facilities to enroll in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) to assist in gathering current data from the entire spectrum of LTC facilities. Reporting on UTIs and catheter-based UTIs will be required of long-term care facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities starting October 1, 2012.

The earlier phases of the national HAI Action Plan had addressed acute care hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and employee flu vaccines.

HHS welcomes public comments on the draft document until August 22. Submit comments by email to: OHQ@hhs.gov

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