How to Drive Down Health Care–Associated Infections

Learn about research and efforts that are propelling dramatic reductions in health care–associated infections and how one type of infection dropped by 50% as a result.
How a mother’s challenge inspired Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, to reduce infection rates and change hospital safety.

Health care–associated infections, long viewed as the nearly inevitable result of hospitalization, have been falling as hospitals and other health-care facilities ensure compliance with science-based protocols.

In 2015, 25% of hospitals reported zero central line–associated infections and 15% reported no catheter–associated urinary tract infections, according to a report by the hospital rating organization Leapfrog Group and health care price transparency company Castlight Health.

“My sense is that we’re getting on top of this and that things are getting better. The frustrating thing is they’re not getting better fast enough,” says Jeffrey Glasheen, MD, chief quality officer for UCHealth and a professor of internal medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

One in 25 patients gets an infection related to their hospital stay, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey discussed in a 2014 article in the New England Journal of Medicine. From the survey, researchers estimated that 648,000 patients in acute care hospitals developed infections in 2011, and about 75,000 patients with health care–associated infections died in the hospital…

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