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Progress being made in infection control in U.S. hospitals; continued improvements needed

Progress has been made in the effort to eliminate infections that commonly threaten hospital patients, including a 46 percent decrease in central line-associated (CLABSI) between 2008 and 2013, according to a report released today by the . However, additional work is needed to continue to improve patient safety. CDC’s Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) is a snapshot of how each state and the country are doing in eliminating six infection types that hospitals are required to report to CDC. For the first time, this year’s HAI includes state-specific data about hospital lab-identified methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections (deadly diarrhea).

The annual National and State Healthcare-associated Infection Progress Report expands upon and provides an update to previous reports detailing progress toward the goal of eliminating HAIs. The report summarizes data submitted to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the nation’s healthcare-associated infection tracking system, which is used by more than 14,500 health care facilities across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Healthcare-associated infections are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety. On any given day, approximately one in 25 U.S. patients has at least one infection contracted during the course of their hospital care, demonstrating the need for improved infection control in U.S. healthcare facilities.

“Hospitals have made real progress to reduce some types of healthcare-associated infections – it can be done,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The key is for every hospital to have rigorous infection control programs to protect patients and healthcare workers, and for health care facilities and others to work together to reduce the many types of infections that haven’t decreased enough.”

This report focuses on national and state progress in reducing infections occurring within acute care hospitals. Although not covered by the report released today, the majority of C. difficile infections and MRSA infections develop in the community or are diagnosed in healthcare settings other than hospitals. Other recent reports on infections caused by germs such as MRSA and C. difficile suggest that infections in hospitalized patients only account for about one-third of all the healthcare-associated infections.

Tracking National Progress

On the national level, the report found a:

  • 46 percent decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) between 2008 and 2013. A central line-associated bloodstream infection occurs when a tube is placed in a large vein and either not put in correctly or not kept clean, becoming a highway for germs to enter the body and cause deadly infections in the blood.
  • 19 percent decrease in surgical site infections (SSI) related to the 10 select procedures tracked in the report between 2008 and 2013. When germs get into the surgical wound, patients can get a surgical site infection involving the skin, organs, or implanted material.
  • 6 percent increase in catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) since 2009; although initial data from 2014 seem to indicate that these infections have started to decrease. When a urinary catheter is either not put in correctly, not kept clean, or left in a patient for too long, germs can travel through the catheter and infect the bladder and kidneys.
  • 8 percent decrease in MRSA bloodstream infections between 2011 and 2013.
  • 10 percent decrease in C. difficile infections between 2011 and 2013.