Healthcare News & Insights

Infection rates down in hospitals

Good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Hospitals across the country have made significant progress when it comes to lowering infection rates and preventing certain hospital-acquired infections.

But, as always, there’s still more work to be done.

In a recently released report, the CDC looked at data submitted by over 11,500 healthcare facilities in the U.S. to its infection tracking system, the National Healthcare Safety Network.


Most notable among the numbers was a 41% reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infections since 2008, according to a press release issued by the CDC. This represents an increase from 2010, the most recent year for which numbers were available, when the reduction stood at 32%.

Specific hospital departments who had significant progress in reducing these infections included the ICU, the neonatal ICU and hospital wards.

Surgical-site infections also decreased throughout all hospitals, with a reported 17% reduction since 2008. This is higher than the 2010 improvement of 7%.

Needs more work

However, the CDC noted that not all procedures showed this improvement. In fact, four of the nine procedures looked at by the CDC didn’t improve their surgical-site infection rates at all.

To make strides in reducing surgical site infections, hospital personnel may need to think outside the box. According to an article published in USA Today last fall, some hospitals reduced surgical infections using some unique tactics, including:

  • Having patients shower with a special germ-fighting soap before surgery began
  • Making surgery teams change gloves, gowns and instruments during procedures, and
  • Using wound-protection devices on surgical openings to protect the area from being contaminated with germs from the intestines.

Improvement is also needed in preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections. While there was a 7% reduction rate in these types of infections since 2009, this rate is flat, showing no change from the 2010 reduction. And while general wards showed modest progress, critical care hospitals had little to no reduction in their infection rates.

A larger reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections is critical, the CDC says, because these infections tend to require antibiotics. Putting a patient on antibiotics increases the risk of other complications, including contracting C. diff.

Infection control checklists

The CDC suggests that hospitals implement proven strategies to continue to make gains in improving their infection rates, including the use of infection control checklists.

In addition, the CDC’s website includes specific checklists and guidelines for preventing central-line associated bloodstream infections, surgical-site infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

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