Hospitals need high-performing and resilient Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) programs to keep patients, visitors, and healthcare personnel safe, to battle emerging threats, to promote antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) efforts, to comply with mandated reporting requirements, and to improve overall quality and financial outcomes.
HAI progress prior to COVID-19
Similar to prior years, progress had been made between 2018 and 2019 in decreasing the threat of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) within acute care hospitals across the U.S. In fact, the National Healthcare Safety Network’s (NHSN) "2019 National and State Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) Progress Report" showed:
- about a 7% decrease in CLABSIs
- about an 8% decrease in CAUTIs
- a 2% decrease in VAEs
- about an 18% decrease in C. difficile (CDI) infections
- overall decreases in central line, urinary catheter, and ventilator device utilization.
When celebrating these decreases, it’s important to remember that these data were collected before the start of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. While IPC programs were tirelessly working to eliminate HAIs and other common threats in 2019, they were also about to enter one of the greatest infectious disease challenges in all of history.
COVID-19’s impact on HAI incidence
2020 ushered many IPC programs into new states of being overwhelmed, under-resourced, or completely inundated by the new threat of COVID-19. While hospitals have tried to allocate more resources to IPC efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, it has largely come at the expense of controlling other far too common HAIs.
To better understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on HAI incidence in the U.S., 2020 HAI data were collected and compared to that of 2019. As a result, significant increases in CLABSI, CAUTI, VAE, and MRSA bacteremia were evident. It’s true that a larger volume of sicker patients at higher risk have been admitted over the last year, but the CDC concluded that these 2020 HAI increases were also a result of lacking surge capacity and other operational challenges.
These findings highlight a need to return to conventional IPC practices and build resiliency in these programs to withstand future pandemics. In order to accomplish this goal, healthcare facilities must take a deep look at their experiences through a new lens filled with all the COVID-19 lessons learned in order to build and maintain high-performing and resilient IPC programs moving forward.
Explore key attributes of a high-performing infection prevention and control program in this guide.