How the pandemic is affecting HAI rates: 5 things to know

Early data from two hospitals in New York City and St. Louis suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause an uptick in some healthcare-associated infections, researchers wrote in a commentary published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Five things to know:

1. CMS suspended HAI reporting requirements through June, allowing infection preventionists to shift their focus to COVID-19 emergency response activities. As a result, these leaders have spent less time on HAI surveillance and prevention efforts, researchers said.

2. While it is still too early to fully assess how this shift will influence HAI incidence at hospitals nationwide, researchers noted large jumps in some infections at Mount Sinai Morningside in New York City and Christian Hospital in St. Louis. 

3. Mount Sinai Morningside saw a 420 percent increase in central line-associated bloodstream infection rates during the pandemic compared to the prior 15 months, while Christian Hospital reported a 324 percent jump. COVID-19 patients are at higher risk of CLABSI, so researchers said they expect this rate to rise the most of all HAIs amid the pandemic.

4. Researchers also suggested that catheter-associated urinary tract infection rates could increase, though data from Mount Sinai Morningside and Christian Hospital show smaller jumps in these infections than CLABSI rates. 

5. Mount Sinai Morningside and Christian Hospital reported a small decrease in Clostridium difficile infections (52 percent and 45 percent, respectively), possibly due to a heightened focus on environmental cleaning, study authors said.

To view the full study, click here.

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