Mar. 27—Hospital-acquired infections nationwide dropped 58 percent in a recent 10-year span, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC report released this week found an estimated 722,000 people nationwide suffered hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in 2011, which was down from 1.7 million who contracted such conditions in  2002.

The infections resulted in an estimated 75,000 deaths among hospitalized patients in 2011, and that was a reduction from the estimated 98,987 HAI-related deaths in 2002.

Michael Bell, MD, deputy director of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC, warned that the new infection rate data is not completely comparable to the earlier data, but that it does appear that an improving trend is present. He also underscored that hospitals still have much room for reducing infections.

The CDC survey findings indicated that on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.

“Of all the patients who had infections, one out of nine of them went on to die during their hospital stay,” Michael Bell, MD, deputy director of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC, said during a press conference. “There's a possibility that something else was contributing to that death, but it's difficult to tease that out.”

Challenges Remain

The most common sources of infection were from pneumonia and surgical sites during inpatient surgery.

Separate CDC data released this week also indicated hospitals reduced central line-associated bloodstream infections by 44 percent and surgical site infections by 20 percent from 2008 to 2012.

“The report sounds the alarm about the threats we need to be addressing,” Bell said. “It tells us [that] lung infection, gut infection, infections related to surgery, [and] infections related to urinary catheters are at top of the list of things that are causing problems for hospital patients.”

The annual CDC progress report on healthcare-associated infections found methicillin-resistant staph infections dropped by 4 percent and C. difficile infections declined 2 percent from 2011 to 2012. However, catheter-associated urinary tract infections 3 percent from 2009 to 2012

The small decreases and one increase in specific infection types “signals a need for additional prevention efforts to meet the five-year goals for these infections,” according to the report.

“The quality journey is a marathon, not a sprint; hospitals are not yet at the finish line, but they are on the right track,” Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a written statement. “Hospitals have worked hard to achieve these results but will not be satisfied until we reach zero infections.”

Publication Date: Thursday, March 27, 2014