The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced plans to distribute $40 million to state health departments to help prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the money will be distributed through cooperative agreements to 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico to maximize prevention efforts such as:
* Creating or expanding state and local efforts to implement recommendations in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HAI Action Plan
* Increasing healthcare facilities' and health departments' use of CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network, a surveillance system that allows HAI data to be tracked, analyzed and compared for prevention efforts
* Hiring and training public health staff to promote and lead HAI prevention initiatives
* Complementing HAI investments from other HHS agencies
"Americans expect to get better when they go to the hospital, not worse,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Unfortunately, every year, thousands of Americans die from illness they contract after they enter the hospital. Thanks to Chairman David Obey's leadership, the Recovery Act includes critical resources that will help fight these infections and keep patients safe."
Efforts will focus on HHS priority targets such as bloodstream infections, surgical site infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and will address pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff). The investment represents the first time Congress has appropriated HAI prevention funds specifically to states.
"We expect these programs to strengthen tracking and prevention of healthcare-associated infections, enhance facility accountability, provide data for informed policy, and ultimately save lives," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH. "Funding critical prevention efforts at state and local levels represents a significant investment toward elimination of HAIs and improved patient safety."
CDC estimates that every year, Americans contract 1.7 million infections while being treated in hospitals. These infections are associated with approximately 99,000 deaths annually. In addition to the significant toll on patients' lives, HAIs represent an estimated $30 billion in added healthcare costs.