Healthcare-acquired infections drop with voluntary state program

The key to reducing healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) may be voluntary participation. In the first annual report of the Wisconsin Healthcare-Associated Infections Prevention Project, hospitals participating in the voluntary program saw a significant drop in central line-associated bloodstream infections (one of the most common types of infections) at 26 percent in 2010, compared to 33 percent in 2009, according to a Wisconsin Department of Health Services press release yesterday.

"This is very encouraging news," said State Health Officer Dr. Henry Anderson in the press release. "Reduction of these serious healthcare-associated infections means patients are safer as they seek medical care in our hospitals. It's a credit to the hard work of our healthcare partners."

Sixty state hospitals participate in the Wisconsin Healthcare-Associated Infections Prevention Project, under funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to enhance HAI prevention. The Wisconsin Division of Public Health aims to enroll more state hospitals in the national monitoring database, improve lab testing, develop state quality measures, support information sharing, and encourage patient engagement, according to the Department of Health Services website.

"This is a classic example of how a private-public partnership can serve Wisconsin residents," Anderson said.

As the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., HAIs affect one in 20 patients, that is, 1.7 million inpatients each year, according to a GE white paper released this month. That translates into HAIs costing the healthcare system $35 to $88 billion each year, notes the report.

For more information:
- read the press release
- visit the DHS website