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CDC Says 18% Drop in Central Line Infections Is Just the Beginning

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 28, 2010

"This administration is firmly committed to promoting transparency in our healthcare system so we can know what's working, what's not, and how we can do better."

Officials for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) said in a statement that the data "provide a solid benchmark against which future efforts can be measured and represent the quality of data that are needed for the prevention of healthcare-associated infections."

Many hospitals already have seen that these infections "can be reduced to zero, and that in many instances 'zero' can be maintained" in a way that not only conserves healthcare resources, but reduces lengths of stay and associated costs.

However, the association added, some healthcare institutions still lag behind those in states with mandatory reporting requirements. Preventing infections requires hospital leadership commitment, adequate resources, a culture of patient safety, and a sufficiently trained staff to lead interventions.

Central line associated bloodstream infections occur when catheters, generally placed into the large blood vessels of the neck either to administer medications or monitor patient status, become infected. They are often used in seriously ill patients who already have diminished immune systems or multiple diseases that make it even more difficult for them to fight infection.

Mandatory reporting is seen as one effective way to increase hospital resources and attention in the issue. When the report was done, 17 states had laws requiring CLABSI reporting to health agencies.

"Over the last two years, we've seen the number of states requiring mandatory reporting move from 13 to 20 to 27," said Don Wright, MD, HHS deputy assistant secretary for healthcare quality. "We expect the trend will continue to encourage public reporting at the state level."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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