Nation's Top Healthcare Organizations Announce Strategies to Prevent Deadly Healthcare-Associated Infections : Strategies emphasize practical implementation in acute healthcare settings

For the first time, five leading healthcare organizations have published practical, science-based strategies to help prevent the six most important healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

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Clinical and administrative leaders need to make infection prevention a key patient safety initiative within their organization. Patient safety is everyone's job

WASHINGTON (PRWEB) October 8, 2008

Preventing HAIs is one of the nation's highest priority public health and patient safety goals. HAIs affect nearly 2 million Americans annually, with 90,000 deaths and up to $6.5 billion in extra costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospital infections cost Americans between $4.5 and $6.5 billion in extra healthcare costs annually.

"People should expect healthcare that is safe and free from additional complications," said P.J. Brennan, M.D., head of the federal Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) and President of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). "This effort will benefit everyone who walks in the hospital door because these strategies identify what hospitals should be doing based on the latest scientific evidence and provide performance measures to ensure accountability."

The Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals was produced by SHEA and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), in partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA); the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC); and The Joint Commission, which accredits more than 15,000 U.S. healthcare organizations. Infection control experts at SHEA and IDSA will assume responsibility for updating these strategies as science evolves.

"Healthcare providers' goal is to offer the best and safest patient care possible. Not all HAIs are preventable, but it is imperative that we implement practices that we know are effective to prevent as many of these infections as possible," said SHEA spokesperson Deborah S. Yokoe, M.D., lead author of the strategies.

With the support or endorsement of an additional 29 healthcare organizations, the Compendium is a good starting point for addressing this critical public health issue before it worsens.

"In developing these strategies, we looked at all existing HAI guidelines and literature to create recommendations that are understandable, easy-to-use and stress accountability," said David Classen, M.D., IDSA spokesperson and co-author of the strategies.

Six of the most important preventable HAIs with the greatest impact on morbidity and mortality were identified. Recommendations are prioritized into two categories: basic practices for all acute care hospitals and special approaches for extraordinary circumstances.

Two sections focus on preventing spread of specific organisms:

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)Staphylococcus aureus, also known as "staph," is a very common germ that many people have on their skin or in their nose. This germ can sometimes cause serious infections of the skin, blood, lungs or open wound. MRSA infections are harder to treat because fewer antibiotics are effective once the staph bacteria become resistant to methicillin (a common antibiotic). Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI)Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff, is a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea and in some cases, serious intestinal infections. C. diff can increase hospital stay as well as increase costs, morbidity and mortality in adult patients. Four sections focus on device-and procedure-associated HAIs:

Central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI)Patients, especially those requiring intensive care, often need central lines (also called central venous catheters) for fluids or medications. A CLABSI occurs when microorganisms travel down the catheter and enter the blood. This can lead to serious illness and longer hospitalization. Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)VAP occurs in pediatric and adult patients who require a machine to help them breathe. An estimated 25 percent of patients on a ventilator will develop VAP. Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI)Urinary catheters are used for patients unable to urinate on their own. Urinary tract infection is the most common HAI with about 80 percent of urinary tract infections acquired in the hospital attributable to long-term use of urinary catheters. Surgical site infection (SSI)SSI occurs in 2 to 5 percent of patients undergoing inpatient surgery in the United States with an estimated 500,000 occurring annually. Overall, SSIs are associated with about $7 billion to $10 billion annually in healthcare expenditures in the U.S. "Clinical and administrative leaders need to make infection prevention a key patient safety initiative within their organization. Patient safety is everyone's job," said APIC's 2008 President Janet E. Frain.

With patient concerns for HAIs growing, the partners decided the time was right to review and synthesize current guidelines and develop practical strategies that are easily implemented by healthcare professionals. The urgency is heightened because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will no longer reimburse hospitals for costs related to treating certain HAIs.

"Relevant, evidence-based guidelines must serve as the basis for infection prevention implementation strategies," said Robert A. Wise, M.D., vice president, Standards and Survey Methods, The Joint Commission. "The Compendium meets a great need for clear, user-friendly language, and was an important component in the development of The Joint Commission's 2009 National Patient Safety Goals on HAIs."

"Hospitals welcome these strategies as clearly identifiable things that can be done to improve and measure their quality efforts," said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the AHA. "Working closely with this group has given us the opportunity to help ensure that this information can be put to work quickly on the front lines to make care better and safer for our patients."

Additional information about the compendium, including spokesperson bios and the announcement press conference URL can be found by visiting http://www.preventingHAIs.com.

About SHEA and IDSA