New National Awards to Recognize Progress Toward Eliminating HAIs

A new national awards program will recognize teams of critical care professionals, hospital units and healthcare institutions able to successfully reduce or eliminate healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), a leading cause of death in the United States.

The awards are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Healthcare Quality, and the Critical Care Societies Collaborative (CCSC), a multidisciplinary organization that includes the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society and Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Applications for the awards are due by Jan 29, 2011. Visit www.aacn.org/hhs-ccsc-award for complete details, eligibility, selection criteria and application requirements. AACN will coordinate nomination and selection for the first awards cycle.

"The awards strive to motivate clinicians, hospital executives and facilities to improve clinical practice so the healthcare community can achieve wide-scale reduction and long-term elimination of healthcare-associated infections," says Justine Medina, RN, MS, AACN's director of professional practice and programs. "They recognize teams of critical care professionals whose notable achievements lead the way toward achieving this goal."

Healthcare-associated infections rank among the top 10 causes of death in the United States, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports nearly two million HAIs occur in hospitals each year, contributing to almost 100,000 deaths.

The new awards program will annually recognize teams of critical care professionals, hospital units and healthcare institutions that achieve excellence and notable, sustained improvements in preventing healthcare-associated infections, specifically infections in critical care. Initially, the awards will emphasize success related to reducing and eliminating central line-associated bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

Awards will be conferred at two levels, according to specific criteria tied to national standards. The Outstanding Leadership Award will recognize benchmark systems of excellence that result in sustained success of 25 months or longer in the prevention of elimination of targeted HAIs and national leadership in sharing and disseminating information. A second award for sustained improvement will recognize teams able to demonstrate consistent and sustained progress over an 18-to-24 month period.

The first awards will be presented on May 2, 2011, at the AACN's National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition in Chicago.

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