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Healthcare Associated InfectionsMinimize the Risk of Healthcare-Associated Infections

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a significant concern for both patients and healthcare providers.

HAIs compromise patients’ treatment plans and recoveries — particularly for those who are post-op, have chronic health conditions, or compromised immune systems. HAIs, like C. diff and MRSA, are often difficult and costly to treat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently completed their National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report. Here are their findings as well as six ways patients can minimize their risk of contracting HAIs.

Key Findings

One of the CDC’s goals is to implement policies and procedures that will stop the spread of HAIs. In doing so, there will be better patient outcomes and the burden on healthcare providers and facilities will be minimized.

For example, in 2011, there were approximately 722,000 HAIs in U.S. acute care hospitals, or the equivalent of 1 in 25 patients. About 75,000 patients who contracted an HAI died during their hospital stay.

The most recent report pooled 2014 national and state-level data from acute care hospitals. They evaluated the following types of infections:

  • central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI),
  • catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI),
  • surgical site infections (SSI),
  • hospital-onset Clostridium difficile infections (C. difficile), and
  • hospital-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (bloodstream infections)

On a national level, there was a decrease in the majority of infection types. Between 2008 and 2014, the rates decreased by:

  • 50 percent for CLABSI
  • 17 percent for abdominal hysterectomy SSI
  • 2 percent for colon surgery SSI

Between 2011 and 2014, there was an 8 percent decrease in C. diff infections and a 13 percent decrease in MRSA infections.

Minimize Risks

Research has shown that healthcare facilities can minimize the occurrence of HAIs by strictly following appropriate best practices and guidelines. It’s been demonstrated that an estimated 70 percent reduction in infection rates is possible.

Additionally, patients should follow these six steps to protect against HAIs:

  1. Speak up. Ask your doctor or care providers how they are protecting you from infection.
  2. Keep hands clean. Make sure all healthcare workers cleans their hands before touching you.
  3. Get smart about antibiotics. Ask your doctor if testing will be done to confirm that the correct antibiotic is prescribed.
  4. Know the signs and symptoms of infection. Infections present differently – know the signs and symptoms of the most common ones.
  5. Watch out for deadly diarrhea. Report any ongoing episodes of diarrhea to your physician.
  6. Protect yourself. Avoid complications by opting to receive vaccinations for potentially life-threatening infections.

To see each state’s infection rates, check out the full CDC report. The CDC also released a handy infographic about preventing the spread of HAIs. You can find that below.

How did your state rate? What steps do you take to prevent HAIs? Please tell me in the comments below!

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