CDC report indicates progress on HAI reduction

Despite Medicare's recent announcement that it will penalize hospitals with the highest rates of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicates that healthcare facilities nationwide made significant progress toward reducing these deadly patient harms.

"Hospitals have made real progress to reduce some types of healthcare-associated infections--it can be done," CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., said in a statement about the report. "The key is for every hospital to have rigorous infection control programs to protect patients and healthcare workers, and for healthcare facilities and others to work together to reduce the many types of infections that haven't decreased enough."

Some of the highlights of the report include:

  • A 46 percent decrease in central-line-associated bloodstream infections from 2008-2013
  • A 19 percent decrease in surgical-site infections in 10 select procedures from 2008-2013
  • A 6 percent increase in catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) from 2009-2013; although initial data from 2014 indicate that these infections have started to decrease
  • An 8 percent decrease in hospital-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia from 2011-2013
  • A 10 percent decrease in hospital-onset C. difficile infections from 2011-2013

The increase in CAUTI cases in particular indicates a "strong need for additional prevention efforts," according to the CDC report, which included data from more than 14,500 facilities nationwide.

The need to continue the fight against HAIs was echoed by Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union's Safe Patient Project, in a statement about the CDC report.

"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," she said, referring to Health and Human Services (HHS) benchmarks set for the reduction in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) as part of its Partnership for Patients initiative.

HHS did, however, recently release a report that indicated a 17 percent overall decline in HACs between 2011 and 2013 resulted in 50,000 fewer patient deaths and saved $12 billion, FierceHealthcare has reported. This progress is due in part to a "concerted attention by hospitals throughout the country to reduce adverse events," partially spurred by HHS inititiatives, according to an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) report.

The CDC report also contained HAI data collected on the state level, which was then compared to the national data. Not all states, however, reported enough data to be included in the report, and for those that were included, the results were a mixed bag. While 16 states performed better than the nation as a whole on three or more infections, eight performed worse on three or more infections, according to the CDC. 

To learn more:
- check out the CDC report
- read the CDC statement
- read the Consumers Union statement
- see the AHRQ report (.pdf)