When it comes to reports on the state of healthcare, I would hazard a guess that many of us think the future is bleak. According to the newest CDC VitalSigns report, we have some good news: we are in fact preventing healthcare associated infections and are saving thousands of lives. Between 2008 and 2014 some of the marked improvements include a 50% decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) and a 17% decrease in surgical site infections (SSIs).
While this reduction in HAIs is moving in the right direction and certainly improving the lives of our patients, the fight is not over; 1 in 7 HAIs associated with catheters and/or SSIs are now being shown to be caused by the same 6 antibiotic-resistant bacteria:
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
- Methicilin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum β-lactamase)
- Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
- Multidrug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Multidrug resistant Acinetobacter
As highlighted by the report, the challenge ahead is how we help to prevent antibiotic resistant infections. The report specifies that the 3 key areas we should be prioritizing our efforts on are: preventing the spread of bacteria between patients, preventing infections related to surgery and/or placement of a catheter, and improving antibiotic stewardship. For Infection Preventionists, I’m sure this does not come as a surprise, but it does reinforce the areas that need to be prioritized. Moving forward, it will be imperative to provide evidence to continue to support the need for ensuring we have a robust infection prevention program that includes sufficient staff and resources to implement surveillance programs and other initiatives to reduce HAIs. This report emphasizes the need to ensure we are isolating patients when necessary and the importance of knowing what the antibiotic resistance patterns in our facilities are. In addition, it solidifies the need to follow best practices and other recommendations for preventing SSIs or central line and catheter infections.
To those of you in the field - kudos on a job well done! Congratulations to the positive efforts and lives saved or improved as a result of your diligent work. In an era where our headlines focus on the ominous stories in an effort to fear monger and sensationalize our healthcare, you are the unsung heroes. It will be interesting in the coming days to see how the tabloids and news channels spin this latest one; my bet is they focus on the negative. I think we need to focus on the positive. Why? Just ask yourself: where would be without the role of infection prevention? How many lives would have been lost or adversely impacted? What would our healthcare facilities look like if there were no Infection Preventionists? I shudder at the thought. A 50% decrease in CLABSIs and a 17% decrease in SSIs is something to be celebrated!