Hospital infections are on the decline, according to a new report by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It’s the result of an exhaustive campaign to raise awareness about the dangers posed by hospital-acquired conditions, including catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections.
The federal government began a campaign to reduce hospital infections in 2010. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that effort has paid off, with hospitals preventing an estimated 50,000 patient deaths and 1.3 million infections between 2010 and 2013. The campaign also saved U.S. hospitals roughly $12 billion over that three-year period.
Rich Umbdenstock, president and chief executive officer of the American Hospital Association, says the campaign involved creating an “infrastructure of improvement” designed to improve care in hospitals and other healthcare facilities for years to come. “Never before have we been able to bring so many hospitals, clinicians and experts together to share in a common goal – improving patient care,” Umbdenstock said.
Nevertheless, there’s a long road ahead. Back in October a study carried out by Kaiser Health News found that one in every twenty-five hospital patients could expect to acquire an infection during their hospital stay, with 75,000 Americans succumbing to hospital infections each year. Overall, that means more people die from hospital-associated infections than from car accidents or gun shot wounds.
Dr. Don Goldmann, chief medical and science officer at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, suggests medical professionals and hospital administrators need to maintain their focus on preventing these infections. “There’s a lot of room for improvement,” Goldmann said.