Healthcare-Associated Infections Affect 1 in 25 Hospital Patients Nationwide

Mar. 26, 2014

Patient in hospital bedA new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that on any given day, about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. Published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, it is the largest CDC-led survey of healthcare-associated infections in more than 30 years and provides a national snapshot of the burden of infections like pneumonia that can result from a hospital stay.  

The survey included data from approximately 180 hospitals in 10 states. Ghinwa Dumyati, M.D., who directs the communicable diseases surveillance and prevention program at URMC’s Center for Community Health, recruited 23 hospitals from Western New York to participate in the survey. Her team fed data to the CDC through the New York State Emerging Infections Program, which is part of a 10-site CDC-funded network that keeps hawk-like watch on the activity of several infectious diseases of public health importance.   Ghinwa Dumyati, M.D.

They survey found that the most common infections were pneumonia and surgical-site infections, which both accounted for approximately 22 percent of reported infections, and gastrointestinal infections, which accounted for about 17 percent of infections.  The organism that caused the most infections was Clostridium difficile or C. diff, which led to around 12 percent of infections in hospitalized patients. C. diff vexes hospitals, long-term care facilities and communities nationwide and can cause life-threatening diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. It typically occurs after a patient has used antibiotics.

Dumyati, an associate professor of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, says the report is important because it highlights where hospitals should focus and expand surveillance and prevention activities. Here in Rochester, Dumyati is already tackling C. diff. She’s leading the Rochester Patient Safety Collaborative, a citywide effort including UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital, Rochester General and Unity, to fight C. diff. She recently spoke with WXXI’s Evan Dawson, host of “Connections with Evan Dawson”, about C. diff and what needs to be done to address it in our community and beyond. At the top of the list is the judicious use of antibiotics. Listen to her conversation with Evan Dawson here.  

Read more about the CDC report on healthcare-associated infections here and listen to Dumyati discuss the report with MedPage Today here.