Rate of Healthcare-Associated Infections in Hospitals Drops

By Steve Barrett
Monday, July 1, 2019

Among patients in U.S. hospitals, about one in 30 has one or more healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) on a given day, according to the CDC.

However, recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows the risk of patients acquiring HAIs in nearly 200 hospitals surveyed fell 16 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Surgical site and urinary tract infections saw the largest drops. While the study did not gather data about practices hospitals had used to reduce surgical site infections, researchers noted that fewer patients had urinary catheters in 2015 and that hospitals prioritized the earliest possible removal of catheters to ward off infections.

All told, slightly more than 3 percent of patients in U.S. hospitals had HAIs in 2015, down from 4 percent in 2011.

Not all the news was good. Pneumonia and digestive infections — particularly Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) — are the most common infections, according to the study, which calls them out as targets for enhanced prevention efforts. C. diff infections did not decline, the authors note in a United Press International (UPI) article, and pneumonia infection rates remain troubling.

“The findings are encouraging,” the study’s lead author, Shelley Magill, MD, a medical officer with the CDC, tells UPI. “Progress is being made in infections affecting hospitals in the United States. But more work needs to be done.”