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CDC: Progress apparent in fight against CLABSIs, SSIs


Hospitals in the United States continued to make progress in the fight against central line-associated bloodstream infections and some surgical site infections, while catheter-associated urinary tract infections remained unchanged from the previous year, according to a report issued Feb. 12 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Reductions in some of the deadliest healthcare-associated infections are encouraging, especially when you consider the costs to both patients and the healthcare system,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “This report also suggests that hospitals need to increase their efforts to track these infections and implement control strategies that we know work.”

The report looked at 2011 data submitted to the National Healthcare Safety Network, the CDC’s premiere infection tracking system, which receives data from more than 11,500 healthcare facilities across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The number of infections reported was compared with data from 2010 and with a national baseline.

Patrick Conway, chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, noted that the “significant decrease in central line and surgical site infections means that thousands of patients avoid prolonged hospitalizations and the risk of dying in the hospital. Providers, working with CDC and CMS, are fulfilling Medicare’s quality measurement reporting requirements for hospital infections and demonstrating that, together, we can dramatically improve the safety and quality of care for patients.”

For 2011, the CDC reported:

• A 41% reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infections since 2008, up from the 32% reduction reported in 2010. Progress in preventing these infections was seen in ICUs, general units and NICUs in all reporting facilities;

• A 17% reduction in surgical site infections since 2008, up from the 7% reduction reported in 2010.This improvement was not evident for all procedure types, and substantial opportunity for improvement remains across a range of operative procedures, according to the report;

• A 7% reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections since 2009, which is the same percentage of reduction that was reported in 2010. There were modest reductions in infections among patients in general units, but essentially no reduction in infections reported in critical care units.

Catheter-associated urinary tract infections among ICU patients are an area of significant concern because patients who get these infections are more likely to need antibiotics. Although antibiotics are critical for treating bacterial infections, they can also put patients at risk for other complications, including from Clostridium difficile, according to the CDC.

As part of the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections (, established in 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services (which includes the CDC and CMS) has set goals for reducing central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections and surgical site infections by December 2013. The data included in this report indicate steady progress is occurring toward the goal of a 50% reduction in CLABSIs and the 25% reduction goal for surgical site infections over the course of five years. Although progress toward the 25% reduction goal for catheter-associated urinary tract infections is moving more slowly, it remains attainable with sustained prevention efforts, according to the CDC.

The full report is available at


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