5 Leaders Address HAI Reduction at Senate Committee Hearing

On Tuesday, five leaders spoke at a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee on U.S. efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections.

Here is a summary of the statements made to the Senate committee.

1. Patrick Conway, MD, CMO and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality and acting director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Dr. Conway summarized some of the work CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are doing to reduce infections. He highlighted federal policies, including nonpayment for certain hospital-acquired conditions, the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program, the inpatient quality reporting program and the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, as well as nationwide efforts such as those through quality improvement organizations and the Partnership for Patients initiative.

While recognizing more work needs to be done, Dr. Conway noted some infection reduction improvements, including a 44 percent decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections over the last four years and a 20 percent decrease in surgical site infections, according to CDC data to be released Thursday. In addition, a recent study has shown the incidence of serious Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections among hospitalized patients decreased 54 percent from 2005 to 2011.

2. Beth Bell, MD, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at CDC. Dr. Bell shared the CDC's efforts in reducing infections, including its collection of HAI data through the National Healthcare Safety Network, its investigation and control of HAI outbreaks and its development and propagation of HAI prevention guidelines. In addition, an analysis currently undergoing peer review estimates the per-dollar rate of return on CDC investments ranged from $4.54 to $23.45 from 1990 to 2008.

As Dr. Conway did, Dr. Bell shared HAI improvements while recognizing a need for further improvement. For example, the CDC estimated between 104,000 and 198,000 CLABSIs were prevented among critical care patients in the U.S. between 1990 and 2010.

3. Ciaran Staunton, co-founder of The Rory Staunton Foundation. Mr. Staunton shared the experience of losing his 12-year-old son Rory Staunton to sepsis in 2012. He called on Congress to create educational resources for healthcare providers, parents and patients to raise awareness of sepsis and help identify and treat the infection early. In May, New York hospitals adopted statewide regulations called Rory's Regulations, which include protocols to identify and treat sepsis. Mr. Staunton suggested these regulations be adopted by all states to prevent sepsis deaths.

4. Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, president of clinical and physician services and CMO of Nashville, Tenn.-based Hospital Corp. of America. Dr. Perlin shared the results of the Reduce MRSA study, in which 13 hospitals reduced MRSA rates 37 percent in 18 months through universal decolonization. The success of the study reflects the power of a learning health system, one that generates and uses scientific evidence to improve care, according to Dr. Perlin. He called for the continued support of learning health systems in preventing HAIs. 
5. Joe Kiani, founder of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation. Mr. Kiani recommended five strategies to reduce preventable patient deaths, including transparent reporting, incentives, interoperability, safe harbors and patient advocates.

More Articles on HAIs:

Johns Hopkins Awarded $7.3M to Reduce Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia
8 Lessons From AHRQ CLABSI-Reduction Campaign
Patient Safety Tool: Kaiser Permanente's Infection Control "Plus" Measures

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