Wednesday, February 13, 2013 —
Raleigh – Recently the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released the first public report of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in acute care hospitals across the state. HAIs are infections that patients acquire in a healthcare setting while receiving treatment for other conditions. In North Carolina, approximately 33,000 individuals contract healthcare-associated infections in acute care hospitals each year.
“Preventing healthcare-associated infections is a public health priority in North Carolina,” said State Health Director Laura Gerald.
“With legislative support, the department undertook a collaborative effort with our hospital partners to make this information available to consumers. We hope that patients will use this information to talk with their doctors and healthcare providers about how to prevent infections.”
HAIs happen when infectious agents, such as bacteria, enter a patient’s body. The infections are often associated with the use of medical devices such as catheters. They may also occur after surgical procedures. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one of every 20 hospitalized patients will be affected by an HAI.
The report, which is available online at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/hai/fi gures.html, provides hospital-specific information for consumers and healthcare providers about three of the most common HAIs that occur in North Carolina: central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in intensive care units; catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) in intensive care units; and surgical site infections (SSI) following abdominal hysterectomies or colon surgeries.
Information about other types of healthcare-associated infections will be included in future reports, such as those caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and by Clostridium difficile (C. diff.).
The report also includes specific suggestions for questions consumers can ask their healthcare providers and precautions they can take while in the hospital.
“North Carolina Hospitals have come together collaboratively to prevent healthcare associated infections by participating in national and statewide initiatives and as a result, infection control practices to reduce infections and keep patients safe are being hard wired in hospitals,” said Carol Koble, M.D., executive director of the NC Quality Center in the North Carolina Hospital Association.
“Transparency about infection rates was a powerful motivator for hospitals to improve. This consumer guide engages the patient and family in infection prevention, empowering patients to ask questions of their healthcare providers and the ability to speak up when they see an unsafe practice.”
As mandated by North Carolina law, reports will be issued on a quarterly basis during the months of January, April, July, and October. The statewide HAI Prevention Program is part of the DHHS Division of Public Health.