CDC: Rate of Health Care-Associated Infections Falling

The number of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) fell 46 percent between 2008 and 2013, according to the CDC’s National Healthcare Associated Infections Progress Report (NHAIPR). The NHAIPR expands upon and updates previous versions of such reports and provides a snapshot of how individual states and the nation as a whole are faring in the elimination of six particular healthcare associated infection (HAI) types. The CDC used data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), a tracking system used in more than 14,500 facilities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.


HAIs often occur in ICU settings with the use of invasive devices, such as ventilators and indwelling urinary catheters. Annually in the U.S., the costs associated with HAIs can climb to $33 billion. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) specifically penalizes hospitals with the highest HAI rates, with those hospitals losing 1 percent of their Medicare payments. HHS may also eventually choose to expand the pool to include home health agencies, ambulatory surgical centers, and skilled nursing facilities.

National Infection Trends

Nationwide, in addition to the 46 percent decrease in CLABSI, an infection that can result when a tube inserted into a large vein is incorrectly placed or not kept clean, the report also found a 19 percent decrease in surgical site infections (SSI) during the same time period. Additionally, catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) increased 6 percent since 2009, but 2014 data shows the number of these infections is starting to decrease. The report further notes an 8 percent decrease in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections between 2011 and 2013.

State Findings

Among the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, 26 states reported better results on at least two of the six infection types tracked by states: CLABSI, CAUTI, MRSA, C. difficile, and SSI following colon surgery and abdominal hysterectomy. Sixteen states reported better number than the nation on three or more infections, with six states exceeding national performance on four infections. Nineteen states performed more poorly than the nation on two infections, and eight states performed more poorly on at least three infections.

“Hospitals have made real progress to reduce the types of healthcare-associated infections—it can be done,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. in a press release. “The key is for every hospital to have rigorous infection control programs to protect patients and healthcare workers, and for health care facilities and others to work together to reduce the many types of infections that haven’t decreased enough.”

The report notes that preventing infections is a crucial first step in slowing the rise of antibiotic resistance, as well as avoiding harm from unnecessary side-effects and C. difficle infections resulting from antibiotic use.