In the battle against hospital-acquired infections, hospitals continue to make progress toward preventing them from happening, but more needs to be done. In fact, one out of every 25 patients will contract an infection in a healthcare setting

A new report from a leading patient safety group shows how facilities are doing with avoiding two common types of infection.

For its latest report on healthcare-acquired infections, the Leapfrog Group looked at responses from over 1,000 hospitals to its annual Hospital Survey.

Using this data, the group has concluded that patients are contracting infections far too often. In particular, hospitals are having trouble curbing the rates of central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).

Measuring up

CLABSIs happen when the central line isn’t placed correctly in a person’s vein, or if the line isn’t kept clean. Patients battling CLABSIs are more likely to die in the hospital than patients who don’t have an infection.

Although CLABSIs should be “never events” in hospital intensive care units, that’s not the case. In fact, only 25% of hospitals responding to the Leapfrog Survey met this benchmark, having zero CLABSIs in ICU patients.

Most hospitals had either the expected number of CLABSIs infections, given their patient mix, or rates that were slightly lower than expected. Nine percent of hospitals had rates that were higher than expected, with 1% reporting CLABSI rates that were over two times the expected rates.

CAUTIs should also be never events, with rates as close to zero as possible. However, only 25% of hospitals across the country met this goal, with a third of facilities reporting rates of CAUTIs greater than expected based on their patient mix.

The performance of hospitals from individual states varies greatly for these two types of infections. Example: New Hampshire has the largest number of hospitals with CLABSI rates of zero (67%), while both Rhode Island and Maryland have no hospitals with CLABSI rates at zero.

Improvements & prevention

Despite the issues, CLABSI rates are slowly on the decline overall, with more hospitals reporting a zero rate than in previous years of the Leapfrog survey. CAUTI infections have been a bit harder to control because they’re so common.

According to Leapfrog, public reporting of hospital-acquired infections has helped trigger lower rates of all types of infections over the past few years. However, there’s still much improvement to be made.

Many CLABSI and CAUTI infections can be prevented with one simple precaution: using proper hand hygiene.

Per the Leapfrog report, other ways to prevent these infections include using the correct procedures to insert central lines and catheters, and to limit their use only until it’s absolutely necessary.

And on its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a list of precautions hospital staff can take to stop the spread of CLABSIs and CAUTIs.

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