Health care-associated infections, or HAIs, are among the top 10 causes of death in the United States and cost in excess of $20 billion a year. These infections are acquired by patients during the course of receiving treatment for other conditions within a health care setting, including hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory surgical centers, and community clinics. Many of these infections are preventable with appropriate health care practices. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that “Adults who develop health care-associated infections (HAIs) due to medical or surgical care while in the hospital have to stay an average of 19 days longer than adults who don’t develop an infection.” (http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb94.jsp)
The infections that account for the majority of health care-associated infections include:
In addition, two important organisms in the area of health care-associated infections are Clostridium difficile and Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Overuse and misuse of antibiotics contribute to increased rates of these types of infections and growing antibiotic resistance. Read more about antibiotic resistance and what can be done to prevent this here. Hand hygiene, which includes hand-washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, is one of the most important pieces of HAI prevention. The following links provide more information about hand hygiene:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings http://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/
Illinois Department of Public Health Hand-washing Poster http://www.idph.state.il.us/about/fdd/HandWash2.pdf
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the "National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care Associated Infections: Roadmap to Elimination" in an effort to combat this growing problem. The action plan calls for a national approach to reduce the transmission of disease, development of strong partnerships between federal and local governments for prevention, and education of providers and other health care personnel in the best prevention practices to reduce these infections. The action plan also includes specific national targets for reduction of key health care-associated infections and a call to educate the public about these infections and how to prevent them..
In concert with the national initiative, the Illinois Department of Public Health (the Department) with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed an array of HAI prevention efforts across the state of Illinois. The Department created an HAI Prevention Advisory Council with key stakeholders, hired an HAI prevention coordinator, developed a focused Illinois HAI Prevention Plan, and implemented a variety of education and prevention initiatives with hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient primary care providers around infection prevention and appropriate use of antibiotics.
The Illinois Department of Public Health Division of Patient Safety & Quality, in partnership with the HAI Prevention Advisory Council, developed the "Illinois Action Plan to Prevent Health Care Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance".
The Plan is intended to serve as a guide to coordinate efforts in Illinois to make a major impact on prevention of HAIs across the state. It is considered a living document and one to periodically be updated in response to new developments in HAI and antibiotic resistance prevention efforts. Goals were set in four priority areas: