HAIs down in US, but more work needed

A national plan to reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) has made strides, but more work is necessary to address all categories, according to a new evaluation published in Medical Care.

The National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), focuses on six high-priority HAI categories:

  • Clostridium difficile infection;

  • Surgical site infection;

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infection;

  • Ventilator-associated events;

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infection; and

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The plan also seeks to improve coordination and consolidation of different agencies' HAI data. Providers are on track to meet reduction targets for some, but not all HAI categories, based on data gleaned from interviews with representatives from nine different HHS regions, according to Katherine L. Kahn of the RAND Corporation and colleagues.

One major area for future improvement is establishing a reliable resource flow for HAI prevention, according to Kahn. Although participating agencies have made do with available resources to meet goals, she said, they have yet to develop long-term strategies because resources are often unavailable.

"Key to the success of the National Action Plan was the multilevel approach to implementation of initiatives at the federal, regional and state levels," Kahn wrote. She believes continued collaboration will allow alliances to focus on larger initiatives, such as those that focus on patient safety, according to the evaluation. "The potential for alignment offers opportunities to leverage existing resources and capabilities within the healthcare system on an ongoing basis." 

Hospital-acquired MRSA infections have declined almost 50 percent since 2005, which researchers said was possibly due to more proactive preventive measures. A February report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed central line-associated bloodstream infections declined more than 40 percent since 2008, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the report summary