Pharmacy OneSource Blog

The Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report: A Louder Call to Action through Technology

Posted on 02/23/15


The recent release of the Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) progress report, which details 2013 national and state data from acute care hospitals for several major HAIs and hospital-onset multi-drug resistant infections, describes significant reductions for nearly all infections.

However, these reductions fell short of the targets established in the 2009 U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections: Roadmap to Elimination. The data is compiled from the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and includes central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), surgical site infections, and hospital-onset Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections.

On a national level, the report found:

  • 46% decrease in CLABSI between 2008 and 2013
  • 19% decrease in SSI for the 10 procedures tracked between 2008 and 2013
  • 10% decrease in C. difficile between 2011 and 2013
  • 8% decrease in MRSA bloodstream infections between 2011 and 2013
  • 6% increase in CAUTI between 2009 and 2013: similar to the previous year’s report

The report also contains detailed data by state, allowing for the development of state or regional-specific benchmarks to track HAI performance improvement.

These findings emphasize the need for expanded implementation of evidence-based strategies for infection prevention. The HHS action plan highlights the key strategies for frontline clinicians of; 1) implementing and improving antimicrobial stewardship, 2) reducing inappropriate/unnecessary device use, and 3) improving adherence to hand hygiene and barrier precautions. For clinical leaders and administrators, the plan calls for standardizing processes of care, leadership support promoting a culture of patient safety and achieving better use of technology.

In an effort to track facilities progress against national or state benchmarks, NHSN has built a Targeted Assessment for Prevention (TAP) report into the application that was piloted with hospitals reporting CAUTI data (see image below). Facilities with excess number of infections above the established benchmark will be targeted for assistance from CDC, AHRQ Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) initiatives, quality improvement organizations and other partners.


These reports will elevate the awareness of gaps in quality infection performance metrics to the frontline staff and leadership, which is essential to the success of improvement initiatives. The visual feedback of HAI data through reports that are meaningful and easily interpreted along with embedded content of evidence- based prevention practices will assist with hardwiring key processes of care aimed at patient safety. An exciting use of technology in our journey to eliminate HAIs!

Topics: Infection Prevention

About the Author

Joan N. Hebden, RN, MS, CIC served as the Director of Infection Prevention and Control for 28 years at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD. Her clinical background includes general medicine, oncology, and cardiothoracic intensive care. She has presented at national epidemiology conferences, participated in research regarding the transmission of multi-drug resistant bacteria, contributed chapters on infection control to nursing resource textbooks, and published in medical and infection control journals. Joan received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a Master of Science degree in nursing education and trauma/critical care from the University of Maryland School of Nursing. She is certified in Infection Control & Epidemiology (CIC). Joan is an active member of SHEA and APIC and is currently on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC).