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CDC Releases Report on Hospital-Acquired Infections: Declining Numbers Bode Well for Hospitals

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On any given day, one in 25 patients will contract an infection during their stay in a U.S. hospital.

Fortunately, progress has been made in eliminating infections commonly acquired in the hospital setting, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report offers a snapshot of the effort every U.S. state, and the country in general, is putting forward in fighting six types of infection that hospitals are mandated to report to the CDC. Results appear to be promising, given the decline registered in certain infection types, but more work is still needed in keeping patients safe.

Data for the report are gleaned from the National Healthcare Safety Network, a tracking system for healthcare-associated infections used by over 14,500 healthcare facilities in Washington, D.C., all 50 states and even Puerto Rico. Infections that are healthcare-associated are grave but highly preventable, simply requiring more effort on the part of healthcare providers.

Tom Frieden, CDC director, said that it can be done, given the kind of visible progress that hospitals are making toward keeping healthcare-associated infections at bay.

"The key is for every hospital to have rigorous infection control programs to protect patients and healthcare workers, and for healthcare facilities and others to work together to reduce the many types of infections that haven't decreased enough," he added.

On the national level, central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) have dropped 46 percent from 2008 to 2013, while surgical site infections (SSI) showed a 19 percent decrease for the same time period. At the same time, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections were reduced by eight percent from 2011 to 2013.

CLABSI occurs when tubes are not placed in large veins properly or are dirty, offering an entryway for germs to infect the blood. SSI, on the other hand, happens when germs find their way into surgical wounds.

In the report, 26 states outperformed the nation as a whole, improving on at least two infection types, while 19 had better numbers for at least three infections and six performed better on at least four infections.

On the other hand, 19 states registered more infections for at least two types while eight states performed worse on at least three types of infections.

To keep levels of healthcare-associated infections down, the CDC is working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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