Most states lag on infectious outbreak readiness

Most U.S. states don't make the grade on preparedness for an infectious disease outbreak, according to a new report from Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

States were scored on 10 indicators relating to outbreak diagnosis, prevention and detection. No state achieved all 10, with five states tying for first place by achieving eight: New York, Virginia, Maine, Kentucky and Delaware. Seven states, geographically spread across the nation, tied for three indicators, the lowest score: Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Oregon, Kansas, Idaho and Michigan. Twenty-eight states scored a five or lower.

The report also found that:

  • Only nine states cut their standardized infection ratio for central-line associated bloodstream infections between 2012 and 2013
  • The national average for flu vaccination is 47.1 percent, with 18 states vaccinating the majority of their populations older than 6 months from fall 2014 to spring 2015
  • Ninety percent of U.S. kindergartners get all recommended vaccinations, but the rates are lower in a number of individual communities and states, with nearly 3 in 10 preschoolers not receiving all recommended vaccinations
  • Thirty-six states employ a biosafety professional in their public health laboratories, and 15 have developed plans on the effects of climate change on human health

Going forward, TFAH made several policy recommendations, including:

  • Reducing antibiotic overuse while increasing the rate of vaccination
  • Improving the interoperability of disease surveillance technology to allow inter-community cooperation on threat detection
  • Strengthening anti-healthcare-associated infection (HAI) policies

"We cannot afford to continue to be complacent," TFAH Executive Director Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., said in a statement. "Infectious diseases--which are largely preventable--disrupt the lives of millions of Americans and contribute to billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs each year."  

Amid the looming threat of drug-resistant superbugs, which have been called "the health crisis of this generation," it is increasingly important for hospitals to take action against HAIs, FierceHealthcare previously reported, with strategies such as developing a "culture of safety" and intensive training.

To learn more:
- read the report
- here's the statement