Author – Dr. Denise Cardo
Director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
Recently, partners hosting the 5th Decennial International Conference on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) – APIC, CDC, IDSA and SHEA – along with public health and other professional organizations (CSTE, ASTHO, PIDS), called for the elimination of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), by implementing proven public health strategies used to combat other diseases (see statement in ICHE or AJIC). This is a bold step.
Is it possible?
Scientifically, there exists a legitimate opportunity to eliminate specific HAIs, including central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs). Recent local and regional initiatives have shown 60%-70% overall decreases of CLABSIs in intensive care units (ICUs), with some locations reporting zero CLABSIs for up to four years following implementation.
Is this enough?
More needs to be done to accomplish the HHS Action Plan to Prevent HAIs and extend those successes into all healthcare settings such as outpatient surgery centers, long-term care facilities and dialysis clinics.
Elimination of HAIs depends on sustainable actions, requiring investment. These actions should include:
- Empowering healthcare professionals with a will to succeed in this area at all levels
- Ensuring adherence to evidence-based practices
- Conducting research to close knowledge gaps
- Aligning infection prevention efforts with incentives to reward excellence
- Monitoring infect ion rates to assess progress and respond to emerging threats
Momentum and investment at the federal, state and local levels in the prevention of HAIs, such as the HHS Action Plan to Prevent HAIs, the American Recovery and Relief Act funding, individual state mandates for public reporting, the Deficit Reduction Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and consumer expectations for transparency and accountability provide momentum for this success in this unique moment in time.
We count on you.
Please join us in this important call for the elimination of healthcare-associated infections. Team work in all levels of healthcare will be necessary, as are partnerships among several groups, including public health, healthcare facilities, legislators, consumers.