It’s an acronym most people outside of the healthcare community don’t know.
But it’s one all VA health clinician knows very well. They are working hard every day to keep it out of their hospital.
HAI – it stands for Healthcare Associated Infections. VA has numerous national programs and local efforts addressing and reducing the incidence of HAIs.
Healthcare Associated Infections can have devastating emotional, medical and financial consequences, which is why VA stresses the importance of continual prevention efforts.
There are many ways infections can threaten the health of hospital patients. The CDC provides preventive information on the following HAIs at their website.
- Central Line-associated Bloodstream Infection
- Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections
- Surgical Site Infection
- Ventilator-associated Pneumonia
In a recent webinar, VA marked International Infection Prevention and Control Week with reports on the success of VHA programs related to infection prevention and control. It was an excellent opportunity to increase awareness of everyone’s role in infection prevention and control and celebrate the work being done in VA to prevent and reduce HAIs.
Some of the good news highlights from the webinar:
- At VA, the rate of Surgical Site Infections, which was already low, has steadily declined.
- VA’s Initiative to Reduce Outpatient Hemodialysis Infectious Events has yielded a significant decrease in total bloodstream infections, access-related infections, and vascular access infections.
- VHA Employee Health continues to successfully coordinate, collaborate and provide VHA employees with tuberculosis screening, sharps injury prevention, immunizations, exposure incident prevention, and education related to infection prevention and control.
- VA is recognized as a leader in implementing Legionella Prevention practices in U.S. healthcare. A VA Directive is cited as an example of Legionella prevention policy on the CDC website.
- VA Community Living Centers have seen a steady decline in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. There are active programs to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections and other infections. The central line-associated blood stream infection rate has decreased significantly.
- The VHA Antimicrobial Stewardship Program was chartered in May, 2011 and is co-chaired by Pharmacy Benefits Management & National Infectious Diseases Service. This program has developed a highly active National Antimicrobial Stewardship Taskforce and national resources to help guide clinicians concerning antimicrobial use.
- The Multidrug Resistant Organism (MDRO) Prevention Initiative began in 2007 as the MRSA Prevention program, expanding to include other MDRO. From 2007 to 2015 MRSA infection rates in ICUs and non-ICUs nationwide dropped significantly. Clostridium difficile infection (C. diff) hospital onset infection rates from 2012 through June 2015 have been reduced overall since the start of the program in 2012.
- In 2006, VA began introducing initiatives to reduce device-associated infection (DAI) rates. The implementation of infection prevention bundles for DAIs has resulted in a statistically significant reduction in these infections in VA healthcare facilities nationwide.
- Our campaign titled “Infection: Don’t Pass It On!” provides products, guidance, communications, continuing education, on-line resources concerning infection prevention, flu vaccinations, hand hygiene, prevention of flu and other respiratory illnesses, pandemic flu, and an annual VA Influenza Manual.
Infection prevention and control is everyone’s responsibility. It is one of our most important goals and successes like these demonstrate that we are striving every day to keep our Veterans healthy and safe.
About the Author: Gary Roselle, MD, FACP is the Director of the VHA National Infectious Disease Service (NIDS)