Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fighting Hospital Infections

Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are among the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S. and drive up the cost of healthcare by $20 billion per year. To help contain the problem, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that $50 million in grants will be funded by the American Recovery Act to help states fight Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs).

HHS plans to make $40 million available through competitive grants to eligible states to create or expand state-based HAI prevention and surveillance efforts and to strengthen the public health workforce trained to prevent HAIs. HHS is also allocating $10 billion in grants to states to improve the process and increase the frequency of inspections for ambulatory surgical centers.

In a speech before the United Nurses of America’s 12th National Nurses Congress, the Secretary discussed two new HHS reports on the quality of healthcare in America and challenged hospitals to work to reduce HAIs.

The reports “2008 National Healthcare Quality Report” and the “2008 National healthcare Disparities Report” published by AHRQ, indicate that patient safety measures have worsened and that a substantial number of Americans do not receive recommended care.

Secretary Sebelius specifically calls upon hospitals to reduce Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infections (CLABSI) in Intensive Care Units by 75 percent over the next three years. Research indicates that these infections strike hundreds of thousands of surgical patients and the percentage of patients acquiring these infections has steadily increased over the past six years.

AHRQ has announced that organizations in ten states are now undertaking a project to test methods to reduce CLABSI’s in hospital ICUs. AHRQ has awarded a three year, $3 million contract to the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) to coordinate the project and provide tools to help healthcare professionals identify opportunities to reduce HAIs and also to implement policies for safer care.

The project enables HRET and their partners at Johns Hopkins University Quality and Safety Research Group and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s Keystone Center for Patient Safety & Quality to collaborate.

The organizations involved in the project include three patient safety groups, the California Hospital Patient Safety Organization, the North Carolina Center for Hospital Quality and Patient Safety, and the Ohio Patient Safety Institute. Hospital associations in those states as well as the hospital associations in Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington are also involved in the project.

To see the reports issued by AHRQ, go to .