Top IC Groups Offer Practical Strategies to prevent HAIs

Joanne Finnegan, for Briefings on Infection Control , October 9, 2008

As infection control professionals (ICP) work on the frontlines to prevent and control infections, leaders in the field stepped forward yesterday with a new compendium that for the first time puts practical recommendations to prevent six of the most common healthcare-associated infections (HAI) into one guidance.

A Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections in Acute Care Hospitals was produced by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA); the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC); and The Joint Commission.

Healthcare leaders said the strategies go one important step further than previous guidelines by presenting practical recommendations in a concise format designed to help hospitals implement and prioritize their HAI prevention efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one of every 10-20 patients hospitalized in the United States develops an HAI, with 90,000 deaths and up to $6.5 billion in extra costs.

The compendium includes strategies for preventing Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—two infections with increasing incidence and morbidity in acute care hospitals. Recommendations are also made to prevent four device- and procedure-related HAIs: central line-associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections.

"I think it's a great idea to combine all the requirements in one place. That is long overdue," said Terry Burger, BSN, RN, CIC, CNA, BC, director of infection control and prevention at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA. "I have one place to direct my ICPs so everyone is singing off the same sheet of music, so to speak."

Representatives from the five organizations unveiled the recommendations at an October 8 press conference in Washington, DC. The Joint Commission expects all hospitals to review their risks and current practices to determine which recommendations from the compendium they need to implement, said Robert Wise, MD, The Joint Commission's vice president of the division of standards and survey methods. The accreditor will convene a group of key stakeholders next year to decide which of the strategies to add to accreditation standards in 2010, he said.

ICPs can find copies of the recommendations online.

Joanne Finnegan is Senior Managing Editor of Briefings on Infection Control, a monthly newsletter from HCPro, Inc.

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