Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Safe Healthcare

Hosted by CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion


Behavior Change in Healthcare to Break Old Habits and Prevent HAIs

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Jan Patterson, MD, MS

Jan Patterson, MD, MS

Author: Jan Patterson, MD, MS, FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA, CPE, FACHE
President of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Change is never easy and old habits are tough to break. Since preventable healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) affect one in 20 patients, the healthcare community – from the C-Suite to the front line – must come together to change practices that allow HAIs to impact the quality and safety of patient care.

Last week, medical researchers and practitioners from across the world convened in San Diego for IDWeek 2012TM, the first joint annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and HIV Medical Association. The meeting covered the progress we’ve made in eliminating HAIs and what more we need to do to confront these issues.  Even with the evidence that backs up core infection control practices, without behavior change, science can only accomplish so much.

Cultivating a Culture of Safe Care 

Creating change in healthcare requires knowledge and practice of quality improvement.  Professionals must know the evidence-based measures and must also understand standard quality improvement tools to implement them. Similar to corporate cultures, healthcare management needs to show support for these measures for them to be embraced and put into daily practice at the bedside. 

Outbreak Investigation: Meningitis

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Carol Bolden

One Case Sparks National Action

Imagine… A patient goes to the doctor for a routine steroid injection.   A couple weeks later, the patient feels sick – headache, fever and suddenly uncomfortable in bright light.  Within days, the patient is admitted to the local hospital’s intensive care unit.  Doctors discover that the patient has a life-threatening disease they’ve never treated before. 

The medical team immediately calls the state health department to alert them of this rare illness.  A short time later, public health is spurred into action, sparking a national investigation of tainted medication given to thousands of Americans. 

No one ever knows when the next outbreak will hit.  The keys to catching outbreaks fast are astute clinical teams, a strong state and federal public health system, and strong collaboration with a range of national and local organizations. 

IIPW: Let’s create an infection prevention movement

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Katrina Crist, MBA

Katrina Crist, MBA

Author – Katrina Crist, MBA
International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), which takes place October 14-20, asks all of us to imagine a safer world through infection prevention. Imagine a healthcare setting where everyone performs appropriate hand hygiene before and after providing patient care. Or a community where every individual uses proper respiratory etiquette by coughing and sneezing into their elbow. Imagine the impact on a global level.

Led by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), IIPW provides a focal point for infection preventionists, healthcare professionals, consumers, organizations, and industry partners to shine a light on infection prevention and its power to save lives.

IIPW seeks to galvanize an infection prevention movement at the grassroots level, and we invite you to join with us.

To jumpstart your involvement, APIC has launched a new website with resources and template materials, and a Facebook page to help promote activation around IIPW. The website places special emphasis on the active role consumers can play and outlines three simple steps to engage patients in their care. 

New “Infection Prevention & You” materials help patients ask questions about their care and stay safe from infection in the hospital, an ambulatory care facility, long-term care facility, or while receiving healthcare services in their home. We encourage you to share these new materials.

The Department of Health and Human Services, APIC, and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America have collaborated on the first “Partnership in Prevention Award” to recognize one exemplary hospital that has achieved sustainable reductions in healthcare-associated infections. The award will be presented on October 15, during IIPW, via a webinar. Registration for the webinar is limited to the first 1,000 individuals who sign up, so we encourage early registration to ensure a spot. Visit the IIPW website for information about other educational opportunities.

Partner organizations, states, and industry champions have pledged their support for IIPW. What are you doing to promote infection prevention? Share your stories by sending them to

Infection prevention is everyone’s business. Together we can achieve more than any of us working separately. Join the infection prevention movement to create changes that will save lives!

A new perspective looking at healthcare-associated infections from the other side of the bed

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Brenda Helms, RN, BSN, MBA/HCM, CIC

Brenda Helms, RN, BSN, MBA/HCM, CIC

Author – Brenda Helms, RN, BSN, MBA/HCM, CIC

In healthcare, we often think of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in terms of what they mean for our healthcare organization. As an infection preventionist, I know I did— until an HAI affected my family. I wonder: Do we really stop and think about the impact of HAIs on patients and their families? Are we putting enough emphasis on the most important aspect of preventing HAIs—the patients and families?

Rick’s story

My husband Rick had surgery on his knee and ankle in 2007. In 2008, his knee was drained six times and he was placed on antibiotics seven times for cellulitis and episodes of fever of unknown origin. In January 2008, he had a hip replacement surgery. Immediately following the surgery, when he was still in the hospital “recovering,” he developed a MRSA catheter-associated urinary tract infection. After antibiotic treatment and inpatient rehab, he returned home. But it didn’t end there. His HAI sparked a vicious cycle of recurrent infections and trips in an out of the hospital that affect us to this day.

Since the hip replacement surgery, Rick has become disabled due to complications from the surgery. He can no longer do the things he used to do. For a 50-year-old, healthy male, a hip replacement should not be a life-altering event. In addition to the monetary costs, my husband’s HAI has cost us much more in terms of quality of life for the entire family.

We think that Rick’s infection after his original knee surgery set him up for complications with his hip replacement. If basic standard precautions were followed (beginning with proper hand hygiene), Rick’s complications could have been avoided. Had Rick and I known what lay ahead for us, we would have insisted that every healthcare worker, including the physician, perform hand hygiene prior to providing patient care. Had we done that, would he still have experienced these complications? I don’t know. But I do know that I am even more committed to infection prevention than ever before.

Read Brenda’s full story in the fall issue of APIC’s Prevention Strategist magazine [PDF - 489 KB].

Making Dialysis Safer: Simple tools to protect patients from bloodstream infections

Categories: Dialysis

Priti R. Patel, MD, MPH

Priti R. Patel, MD, MPH

Author: Priti Patel, MD MPH
Medical Officer
CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

While undergoing dialysis, patients have a lot on their minds. The last thing they need to worry about is getting a bloodstream infection in the process.

In the United States, more than 370,000 people receive long-term hemodialysis. Infection is a leading cause of illness and is the second leading cause of death in these patients.  Bloodstream infections are one of the most serious types of infections dialysis patients can get.  Since 1993, there has been a 40 percent increase in the rates of hospitalizations for bloodstream infection among hemodialysis patients, underscoring the importance of protecting this population.

In 2009, CDC established the CDC Dialysis Bloodstream Infection  Prevention Collaborative, a partnership of freestanding and hospital-based outpatient dialysis facilities from across the country.  These early adopters have seen great success in preventing bloodstream infections among their patients.  Collaborative participants have demonstrated a 31 percent decrease in bloodstream infections and a 53 percent decrease in access-related bloodstream infections when CDC prevention guidelines are implemented.

Older Posts Newer Posts

Pages in this Blog The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #