HHS plans infection-control initiative

HHS officials said last week that they're planning to roll out a national action plan focused on hospital-acquired infection control. Their plan was developed in response to a GAO report criticizing HHS for a lack of centralized infection-control initiatives, said Don Wright, a physician who serves as principal deputy assistant secretary for health at HHS, speaking at the Joint Commission's 2008 Annual Infection Prevention and Control Conference.

The plan is focused on four infections patients typically contract in hospitals, including catheter-associated urinary-tract infections, surgical-site infections, bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia. It will also include efforts to reduce the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) in hospitals.

The plan specifies that work will be done by five groups led by various HHS agencies. This includes a prevention-and-implementation group, which will create a list of processes hospitals should follow to prevent key infections. It will also include a research group, which will develop programs to round out HHS's knowledge-base; an information-systems group, intended to clarify infection definitions, standardize measurements and create interoperability between HHS systems; and an outreach group responsible for providing public information on the effort.

To learn more about HHS's plans:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece

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