The deadline for another HHS program gathering data about infections is approaching. The goal of HHS' National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections, which aims to reduce infections during a three-year period beginning in 2010, is to demonstrate reductions in hospital-acquired central line-associated bloodstream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. The deadline is Sept. 30.
“We're in a pretty good place,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union's Safe Patient Project. “The challenge now is expanding what's going to be reported.”
Thirty states have laws requiring some level of public reporting on hospital-acquired infections. However, a recent bill in Washington state raised concerns with McGiffert's group because it sought to cut back state reporting requirements for surgical infections for high-volume hip and knee replacements and heart procedures that would have aligned the state's regulations with federal reporting rules.
That legislation was blocked. This month Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed into law a bill requiring public reports on a broad array of bloodstream infections occurring almost anywhere in a hospital, including those associated with cardiac, knee and hip operations. The Washington State Hospital Association and the state Department of Health had wanted to exclude those three areas.
“That was a big win for us,” McGiffert said.
For hospitals, though, new studies show that traditional active detection and isolation programs may not be the most effective way to prevent and address infections in the ICU.
A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that using germ-killing soap and ointment on all ICU patients can reduce bloodstream infections by 44% and the presence of MRSA by 37%, making it a more successful strategy than routine care or providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA.