Changes in prevalence of health care-associated infections in U.S. hospitals.
Health care–associated infections (HAIs) are a key cause of preventable harm in hospitals. Successful programs to avert HAIs include the comprehensive unit-based safety program to reduce catheter-related bloodstream infections and the AHRQ Safety Program for Surgery to prevent surgical site infections. This survey of 12,299 patients at 199 hospitals on a single day enabled researchers to estimate the prevalence of HAIs in the United States. In 2015, 3.2% of hospitalized patients experienced an HAI, a 16% decrease compared to a similarly derived estimate in 2011. The most common HAIs were pneumonia and Clostridium difficile infections, while the biggest reductions were in urinary tract and surgical site infections. This data emphasizes the importance of identifying strategies to combat pneumonia in nonventilated patients, which remains common and less well-studied than other HAIs. A past PSNet perspective discussed the history around efforts to address preventable HAIs, including federal initiatives.