Hospitals Making Significant Progress in Reducing HAIs and HACs

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Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicate that significant progress is being made by health care facilities across the country in lowering healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and hospital-acquired conditions (HACs). 

The CDC’s National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report expands upon previous reports detailing progress toward the elimination of HAIs. Infection data in the report included central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), select surgical site infections (SSI), hospital-onset Clostridium difficile infections (C. diff), and hospital-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (blood stream infections).

The report showed significant reductions at the national level in 2013 for nearly all infections, including:

  • 46 percent decrease in CLABSI between 2008 and 2013
  • 19 percent decrease in SSIs related to the 10 select procedures tracked in the report between 2008 and 2013
  • A six percent increase in CAUTI between 2009 and 2013, although initial data from 2014 seem to indicate that these infections have started to decrease
  • An eight percent decrease in hospital-onset MRSA bacteremia between 2011 and 2013
  • 10 percent decrease in hospital-onset C. diff infections between 2011 and 2013

HHS’ Interim Update on 2013 Annual Hospital-Acquired Condition Rate and Estimates of Cost Savings and Deaths Averted From 2010 to 2013 estimates the steps health care facilities have taken to reduce HACs have resulted in 50,000 fewer patient deaths between 2011 and 2013, and over $12 billion in cost savings. The report studied 21 different causes for patient harm, including adverse drug events (ADE), CAUTI, CLABSI, pressure ulcers, obstetric adverse events, Venous Thromboembolisms post-surgery, and SSI. The largest reduction was found in the number of ADEs, which dropped by more than 40 percent.

Officials from CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ) attribute this unprecedented level of progress in national harm reduction to the alignment of Federal programs, partners and other forces like transparent public reporting and value-based purchasing. 

Moving forward, we will continue to pursue smart, localized solutions with our shared partners to maximize synergy and impact in improving the health of Medicare beneficiaries,” said Dennis Wagner, acting director of CMS CCSQ’s Quality Improvement Group.