Hospitals Can Lower Infection Rates

Published June 1, 2007

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) have provided guidelines and suggestions that could decrease hospital-acquired infections. These include the following:

  • appropriate hand hygiene;
  • aggressive detection of carriers;
  • isolation of infected patients;
  • accurate insertion of the central venous catheter and ventilator bundles; and
  • thorough disinfection of the hospital environment and equipment.

The IHI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care worldwide. According to its Web site, “the key to preventing transmission of organisms is highly reliable practice of all components–rates of compliance that greatly exceed current practices in most health care settings.”

Consumers Union and other advocacy organizations say public reporting of hospital-acquired infection rates greatly reduces their prevalence. Nonetheless, some states are hesitant to pass legislation calling for such reporting.

Joseph Kroll, director of the bureau of child care and health facilities for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the state’s bill was defeated because of pending CDC action on the issue.

“We think public awareness is an important component to reducing hospital-acquired infections but are not convinced that legislation will do it all,” Kroll said. “The CDC is developing the national health care safety network that would allow for hospitals to collect and report infection data to the public and state agencies. We are concerned that any state legislation would either duplicate that pending initiative or maybe contradict it. Then you would have hospitals trying to reconcile two different mandates.”

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