HAIs increased in 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic

Sept. 3, 2021

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows substantial increases nationally in healthcare associated infections (HAIs) and select antibiotic-resistant (AR) infections in 2020 compared to 2019. For most of these infections, the increases seen in 2020 present a strong contrast to the success in reducing these infections prior to the pandemic.

The CDC said the study is the first comprehensive look at the impact of COVID-19 on the incidence of HAIs. The findings were published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology (ICHE).

“The COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm for HAI and AR infections in healthcare settings. Many hospitals faced extraordinary circumstances that may have reduced the implementation of standard infection prevention and control (IPC) practices,” the CDC said.

Data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) show initial increases early in 2020 for ventilator-associated events (VAEs), central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia. In addition, compared to 2019, the second half of 2020 saw large and significant increases in catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), CLABSIs, VAEs, and MRSA bacteremia.

“This new report highlights the need for hospitals to continue to reinforce IPC practices in their facilities and regularly review HAI surveillance data to identify areas that need to be improved, plus address any gaps in prevention practices,” the CDC said.

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