HAIs remain a significant challenge for U.S. hospitals—CDC

March 28, 2014

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 26, coordinated with a media briefing presented the same day, in which the agency reported that healthcare-associated infections remain a significant cause of illness and death in American hospitals. CDC representatives noted that “on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients have an infection caused by their medical care. Almost half of these patients are 65 or older…. One in every nine patients who gets an infection will die during hospitalization.”

The most common sites of infection are the bloodstream, the urinary tract, the gut, the site of surgery, and the lungs. The most common causes are Clostridium difficile, Staph (including MRSA), Enterobacteriaceae (including CRE) Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas. The CDC reports progress in reducing the rate of infection; during the last five years, for example, the number of bloodstream infections in patients with central lines has been cut nearly in half.

More than 720,000 HAIs and 75,000 deaths were reported in the published survey, which covered some 648,000 patients hospitalized during 2011. A second CDC report also released March 26, covering nearly 13,000 American hospitals, indicated that hospital-associated infections did decrease in all categories except catheter-associated UTIs.

CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, put this good news in a sobering context, however: “Although there has been some progress,” he said, “today and every day, more than 200 Americans with healthcare-associated infections will die during their hospital stay.” The CDC, which also took the opportunity of the press briefing to draw attention to the growing challenge of antibiotic resistance, declared that its goal “is to eliminate all healthcare-associated infections.” Read the transcript of the press briefing.

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