Four common infections most often acquired in hospitals and other healthcare facilities declined in 2010, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC data, published Oct. 19, found that there was a 33 percent reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infections in 2010, up from an 18 percent reduction after the CDC’s 2009 assessment. Among critical care patients, there was a 35 percent reduction in these types of infections and in non-critical care patients there was a 26 percent reduction.
A central line, also called a central venous catheter, is a tube that is placed in a large vein of a patient’s neck, chest or groin to administer medication or fluids and obtain blood tests or other measurements.
When a central line is not put in correctly or is not cleaned, it can cause germs to enter the body, which can lead to serious bloodstream infections. The problem of central-line associated bloodstream infections has gained criticism and increasing attention in the past several years for contributing to higher morbidity rates among patients and increased healthcare costs.
Top-quality central line insertion practices include a series of steps, including proper hand washing before insertion; appropriate skin preparation with a recommended antiseptic prior to insertion; ensuring the antiseptic was fully dry before insertion; and use of sterile barriers during insertion – gloves, gown, cap, mask and a full body drape on the patient.
The study also found that in 2010, catheter-associated urinary tract infections throughout hospitals decreased by 7 percent.
In addition, surgical site infections dropped by 10 percent, up from a 2 percent reduction in 2009. In 2010, the number of people developing healthcare-associated invasive methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections was also reduced by 18 percent, up from nearly 12 percent in 2009. Also known as MRSA, the bacteria is known for causing skin infections, as well as other kinds of infections.
An increasing number of healthcare providers, too, are adhering to prevention measures that help fight hospital-acquired infections, such as appropriate techniques for inserting central line catheters into patients, the study found. Among healthcare providers, there was a more than 94 percent adherence rate to this practice.
The data were submitted by hospitals across the country to the National Healthcare Safety Network, CDC’s healthcare infection monitoring system. The number of infections reported was compared to a national baseline.
Two additional infections are currently being tracked: Clostridium difficile infections and MRSA bloodstream infections, and data on these infections will be available next year. C. difficile often causes antibiotic-associated colitis, a diarrheal infection, and occurs primarily among patients who have been using antibiotics. It is the most common infection acquired by patients while they are in the hospital.
All of the infections reported have national five-year prevention target goals, which have been laid out in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections. For example, HHS wants to reduce bloodstream infections by 50 percent, urinary tract infections by 25 percent, surgical site infections by 25 percent and MRSA invasive infections by 50 percent over five years. Other goals include increasing adherence to 100 percent for central-line insertion practices and increasing adherence to 95 percent for surgical care improvement measures.
So far, U.S. health facilities are on track to meet most of the HHS plan’s goals by 2013. Data is not yet available for Clostridium dificile infections or MRSA bacteria acquired in hospitals, but so far, the CDC estimates that the United States will not reach its 30 percent reduction goal in hospitalizations related to Clostridium dificile by 2013. In 2009, there was a 1 percent increase in hospitalizations related to the bacteria, and in 2010, there was a nearly 7 percent increase from the baseline number of hospitalizations.