HAIs continued to rise in 2021, CDC finds

The incidence of several common healthcare-associated infections reported by U.S. hospitals increased in 2021, new CDC data shows. 

The CDC's annual HAI progress report, published Nov. 4, found rates for four of six regularly tracked infections had increased compared to 2020:

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections: 7 percent increase
  • Ventilator-associated events: 12 percent increase
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: 14 percent increase
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections: 5 percent increase

Clostridioides difficile infections fell 3 percent in 2021, while rates of surgical-site infections held steady.

This year's increases in CLABSIs, VAEs, MRSA and CAUTIS are far lower than those seen in 2020, when rates increased significantly after years of steady decline due to various pandemic-related challenges, including staffing shortages and high patient caseloads. 

"In 2021, many hospitals continued to face extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic that may have reduced the implementation of standard infection prevention and control practices," CDC said. "In acute care hospitals, the increases seen in some HAIs in 2021 contrast with the success in reducing these infections prior to the pandemic. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, acute care hospitals performed significantly better than the 2015 national baseline in preventing CLABSI, CAUTI, SSIs following colon surgeries, and C. difficile infections."

View the full report here.


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