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Helping Cancer Patients Prevent Infections this Winter

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Outpatient Care, Patients

Alice Guh, M.D, MPH

Alice Guh, M.D, MPH

Author:   Alice Guh, M.D., M.P.H.
Medical Officer, CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

When you are battling cancer, the last thing you want to get is an infection.  This is one of the reasons why I am involved in Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients,  a program focused on providing information, action steps and tools for cancer patients, their families and healthcare providers to reduce the risk of developing potentially life-threatening infections during chemotherapy treatment.

With flu season peaking, I thought it was an appropriate time to answer some questions about how cancer patients can take action to protect themselves against the flu and other serious infections this winter.

Why are cancer patients at greater risk for infection from the flu?

Cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy are vulnerable to infections when their white blood cell count is low. It’s important for cancer patients to understand how to prevent infections year-round, and especially during flu season.

In the winter months, cancer patients face an additional infection risk: influenza or flu. Like other infections, flu is more likely to cause serious complications in cancer patients because of their   weakened immune systems. These complications can include pneumonia, a disruption to their chemotherapy schedules, hospitalization and death.

Engineering Safe Healthcare: Why CDC Needs Business Partnerships

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Business Pulse: How CDC protects the health of your business

Author: Dr. Michael Bell
Deputy Director, CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

Working at CDC, I see how our country is doing at protecting patients during medical care.  While we’ve made some solid progress, I am still shocked when we uncover outbreaks or infection control breaches that are simple and unacceptable lapses in basic safe care. 

Every day, one in every 20 hospital patients has an infection caused by their medical care.  Imagine this from a business perspective – the last thing you want is for your employees to be sick or unable to work.  If your employees get an infection on top of whatever problem leads them to seek care, the consequences can be devastating.  For example, bloodstream infections alone can extend hospital stays for up to one month and cost up to $40,000 extra per person.  And today, we have the risk of infections that are drug-resistant as many bacteria are outsmarting our best antibiotics.

CDC launches new website for preventing infections in long term care

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Long Term Care (LTC)

Nimalie Stone, MD

Nimalie Stone, MD

Author: Nimalie Stone, MD
Medical Epidemiologist
CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

The past few years have brought heightened awareness of the important role of infection prevention programs and activities in long-term care settings, including nursing homes and assisted living. Navigating all the information available on infection prevention in healthcare facilities can be overwhelming, and it can be particularly difficult to locate available resources that are specific to long-term care settings. To address this need, my CDC colleagues and I have worked to redesign and expand our web-based tools and resources for this important healthcare setting.

Today, we are excited to unveil CDC’s Infection prevention website for long-term care facilities! This site organizes existing infection prevention guidance and resources into sections for clinical staff, infection prevention coordinators, and residents. Facilities can also directly access the new infection tracking system for long-term care facilities in CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, and the innovative infection prevention tools and resources developed as part of the partnership between CDC and the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes Campaign (AE). AE is a well-established quality improvement campaign, supported by national nursing home partners. The partnership between CDC and AE grew tremendously through our joint effort to develop and launch the Infection goal to prevent C. difficile infections in nursing home residents. By cross-promoting the AE infection resources on the CDC website, we hope to bring a new audience to the AE campaign while also exposing the campaign’s participants to even more CDC tools to support their local infection prevention activities.

Public gets early snapshot of MRSA and C. difficile infections in individual hospitals

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

MRSA and C. difficile

MRSA and C. difficile

New data posted yesterday and gathered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) gives patients a first look at how their local hospitals are doing at preventing Clostridium difficile infections (deadly diarrhea) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections.  This information, as well as other hospital performance measures, is collected as part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and is publicly available on the Hospital Compare website.

The numbers represent only the first quarter of 2013; measurements of how hospitals are doing will be more precise and provide a more complete picture as more information is collected over time.  The next update, which will represent six months of data, is scheduled for April 2014.

“Sunlight is a great disinfectant, and public reporting of hospital infections is the sunlight the public has asked for and deserves when it comes to their health and safety,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Hospitals understand the importance of reporting, and their leaders are using this information to prevent infections and keep their patients safer.”

For more information about this important CDC and CMS collaboration to advance public reporting of hospital quality indicators, read the full press release at: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p1212-mrsa-cdifficile.html

Sometimes the Safest Prescription is “Wait and See”

Categories: Antibiotic use, Antimicrobial Resistance

Adam L. Hersh, MD, PhD

Adam L. Hersh, MD, PhD

Guest Author – Adam L. Hersh, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
University of Utah

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is a great opportunity to call attention to a priority that we all share: preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics for the future. Doctors and other practitioners on the front-lines of ambulatory care may become frustrated when they hear the way they practice medicine is partly to blame for the urgent threat of antibiotic resistance.

For those of us working in ambulatory care settings, it is a really busy and demanding job, and for many patients with upper respiratory tract infections (URIs), it’s hard to know who has a bacterial infection and who doesn’t. This year, Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is featuring the publication of Principles of Judicious Antibiotic Prescribing for Pediatric Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in the journal Pediatrics. It discusses the importance of diagnostic certainty and reviews the clinical criteria practitioners should use when determining the likelihood of a bacterial infection.

There are established and stringent clinical criteria that should be applied to justify an antibiotic prescription for the key URIs in pediatrics that are potentially caused by bacteria. Many bacterial URIs will resolve on their own without antibiotic treatment. And the serious and justifiably feared complications of URIs (such as mastoiditis as a complication of otitis media) usually cannot be prevented by early antibiotic therapy anyway. All of this is important to consider as our understanding continues to grow about the harms antibiotics can cause.

Antibiotic overuse not only contributes to increased resistance but also avoidable adverse drug events including serious allergic reactions, cardiovascular problems and chronic conditions such as eczema, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. Doctors want to do what is safe and in their patients’ best interests. When there is a considerable degree of uncertainty regarding the diagnosis for patients with URIs, sometimes the safest thing to do is to “wait and see.”

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