APIC Statement in Response to Consumer Reports Article: 'Deadly infections -- Hospitals Can Lower the Risk, but Many Fail to Act'

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As a patient safety advocate, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) appreciates the fact that Consumer Reports has chosen to focus on the checklist that many hospitals are using to prevent deadly bloodstream infections and has included summaries of central-line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) rates in healthcare facilities.

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Protecting patients from harm is the motivation to eliminate preventable infections and is the right thing to do for our patients and for our healthcare institutions.

As a patient safety advocate, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) appreciates the fact that Consumer Reports has chosen to focus on the checklist that many hospitals are using to prevent deadly bloodstream infections and has included summaries of central-line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) rates in healthcare facilities.

The following statement is attributable to Kathy Warye, CEO of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC):

“The March 2010 issue of Consumer Reports (“Deadly infections: Hospitals can lower the risk, but many fail to act”) addresses one of the most pressing healthcare issues facing our nation today: healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). As a patient safety advocate, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) appreciates the fact that Consumer Reports has chosen to focus on the checklist that many hospitals are using to prevent deadly bloodstream infections and has included summaries of central-line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) rates in healthcare facilities.

“Since 1972, APIC has provided thought leadership on infection prevention to drive attention to the critical need to protect patients from HAIs. APIC has established itself as an authority in the application of evidence-based infection control measures and hospital epidemiology.

“In 2004, APIC announced its support of public reporting of healthcare-associated infections as a path to improved quality and patient safety. Further, APIC supported the HAI reporting language in the House of Representatives Healthcare Reform legislation, which would require nationwide HAI reporting through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network. We believe this surveillance network is the best method for ensuring the establishment of a scientifically meaningful reporting and monitoring system for HAIs.

“While not all HAIs are preventable, APIC believes that every healthcare institution should be working toward a goal of zero healthcare-associated infections. Many of our member facilities have seen that central-line associated bloodstream infections can be reduced to zero, and that in many instances zero can be maintained. We’ve also seen that reducing infections can significantly improve a healthcare institution’s financial bottom line. All institutions should be adopting evidence-based interventions to reduce CLABSIs and ensuring that these measures are consistently applied.

“But prevention can only occur when top leaders target zero as their goal, invest in their infection prevention programs to assure the resources needed for optimal programs -- including resources necessary to track, monitor and publicly report these infections -- and make infection prevention and control everyone’s job across the institution. Healthcare leaders must understand that the cost of infections erodes the bottom line, and they need to allocate the resources to infection prevention making it an institution-wide priority.

“At a time when these deadly infections still present a risk to patients, infection prevention departments at healthcare facilities need to be growing, not shrinking. Unfortunately, a 2009 APIC survey showed that 41 percent of hospitals in the U.S. are cutting staff, resources and education for infection prevention in response to the economic downturn.

“APIC’s Targeting Zero initiative provides education to help prevent the most common and deadly HAIs. APIC’s evidence-based elimination guides translate CDC recommendations into straightforward infection prevention strategies for healthcare workers.

“Protecting patients from harm is the motivation to eliminate preventable infections and is the right thing to do for our patients and for our healthcare institutions.”

APIC’s mission is to improve health and patient safety by reducing risks of infection and other adverse outcomes. The association’s more than 13,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the globe. APIC advances its mission through education, research, collaboration, practice guidance, public policy and credentialing. Visit APIC online at http://www.apic.org. For consumer-related information, visit http://www.preventinfection.org.

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Liz Garman
APIC
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