Guidelines To Improve Hospital Infection Control

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The American Hospital Association, the Joint Commission and leading epidemiological societies on Wednesday issued a set of guidelines for preventing six potentially lethal hospital-contracted infections, the New York Times reports. The guidelines, which CDC endorsed, address central line-associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and the intestinal bacteria Clostridium difficile. Joint Commission Vice President Robert Wise said the agency will study which guidelines it will add to its accrediting standards in 2010.

The guidelines are not significantly different from current recommended practices but they are written more clearly and concisely, with additional information about secondary approaches to reduce hospital infections and comments on what hospitals should and should not do. Lead author of the guidelines David Classen, an epidemiologist at the University of Utah, said that after surveying existing guidelines -- some of which have not been updated in years -- the new recommendations were created to promote the procedures that are scientifically proven to be effective.

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According to the Times, epidemiologists say that the challenge in reducing hospital infections has not been a lack of guidelines but rather a lack of adherence to guidelines. Patrick Brennan -- chair of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, which endorsed the new guidelines -- said, "Too often where we fail is not in the knowledge but in the execution," as hospitals have a hard time translating guidelines into common practice. Wise said, "One of the reasons hospitals are having difficulty now is that when they look at guidelines they are drinking from a fire hose," adding, "There are thousands of these things, and they don't quite know what to do with them."

At news conference on Wednesday, AHA President Richard Umbdenstock said, "As of today, the nation's infection control team has a common playbook" (Sack, New York Times, 10/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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