The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $26 million to support applied research at five academic medical centers as part of a patient safety effort known as Prevention Epicenters Program. Together with CDC, these Prevention Epicenters develop and test innovative approaches to preventing infections and improving patient safety in healthcare settings. The new funding more than doubles previous awards and expands and extends the Prevention Epicenters program to 2020.
The Prevention Epicenters funded from 2016 to 2020 are Chicago Prevention and Intervention Epicenter at Rush University and Cook County Health and Hospitals System; Duke University and the University of North Carolina; The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and University of California, Irvine; The University of Pennsylvania; and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and BJC Healthcare Prevention Epicenter.
Examples of new research the Epicenters are conducting to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and the spread of dangerous bacteria include:
• Determining factors that predict which patients in intensive care units (ICUs) will become colonized with an antibiotic-resistant germ, specifically looking at the role of environmental and personal microbiomes
• Discovering how antibiotics disrupt the gut microbiome of ICU patients, putting them at risk for infections
• Testing new strategies for regional, rather than single-facility, approaches to prevent infections and track transmission of antibiotic-resistant germs, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
• Finding the best way to disinfect patient skin to prevent infections in ICU patients
• Determining how microbiome restoration can treat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs
• Automatically detecting outbreaks from lab data
Funding for the five Prevention Epicenters begins immediately and extends through 2020. Additionally, the Rush University and Cook County Health and Hospitals System Epicenter received $4.45 million from CDC’s Safety and Healthcare Evaluation and Research Development (SHEPheRD) contract to develop and test regional approaches for preventing transmission of antibiotic-resistant germs between healthcare facilities.
“For nearly two decades, the Epicenters have advanced the fight against healthcare-associated infections with practical clinical innovations that have saved lives,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “Antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise, making this research even more critical today than ever.”
Funding for the Prevention Epicenters is part of CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative, a national effort aimed at transforming the agency’s ability to further address antibiotic resistance at all levels. Prevention Epicenter efforts will help slow the development of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections, the first goal in the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.
About 1 in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals gets an infection while receiving medical treatment for other conditions, leading to sepsis or death in many cases. In some hospitals, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause one in four catheter and surgery-related infections. The growing toll is described in CDC’s Vital Signs.
For nearly 20 years, Prevention Epicenters have discovered and tested innovative ways to prevent and control infections in healthcare, including addressing scientific questions about antibiotic resistance. Research discoveries with direct impact in healthcare quality and public health impact include:
• Developing a prevention program that reduced CRE bloodstream infections by 56 percent in patients cared for in long-term acute care facilities.
• Cutting ICU patients’ risk of getting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other bloodstream infections by more than 40 percent, using antiseptic baths and nasal decolonization.
• Helping ICU patients recover sooner by systematically letting patients come off ventilator support earlier, reducing their risk of infection and death, and reducing healthcare costs.
The Prevention Epicenters will expand on these and other evidence-based solutions to eliminate HAIs.
“Today’s announcement continues CDC’s legacy of saving lives through collaboration with leading medical investigators,” said John A. Jernigan, MD, MS, director of the Office of Prevention Research and Evaluation within CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “We have made significant progress, and the next phase holds a tremendous amount of promise for patient safety.”