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Kansas Reduces Healthcare-Associated Infections

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

For most Kansans, a stay in the hospital results in improved health, but that doesn't always happen because of the growing trend of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

While these infections can cause serious illness, and sometimes death, they can often be prevented. A new initiative in Kansas aims to understand better how HAIs occur, and what can be done to stop them.

The initiative, to be funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will enable Kansas public health officials to develop a statewide, comprehensive plan to reduce HAIs. The planning effort will include launching a surveillance system to monitor HAIs statewide and a formal evaluation of existing programs to reduce their impact.

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To start the project the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) will receive approximately $576,000 from CDC. The money is part of $40 million in Recovery Act funding to help states fight HAIs, marking the first time that Congress has appropriated HAI prevention funds specifically to states.

"Healthcare-associated infections are a serious public health concern and are being increasingly recognized as contributing significantly to healthcare costs," said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer and Director of Health for KDHE.

HAIs are infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment for another medical or surgical condition. They can occur in all settings of care, including hospitals and outpatient surgical centers, clinics and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.

Efforts from the Recovery Act funding will focus on U.S. Health and Human Services priority targets such as bloodstream infections, surgical site infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and will address pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

CDC estimates that every year, Americans contract 1.7 million infections while being treated in hospitals. These infections are associated with approximately 99,000 deaths annually. In addition to the significant toll on patients' lives, HAIs represent an estimated $30 billion in added healthcare costs.