Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the award of $17 million to fund projects to fight costly and dangerous health care-associated infections (HAIs).
“When patients go to the hospital, they expect to get better, not worse,” Sebelius said in a news release. “Eliminating infections is critical to making care safer for patients and to improving the overall quality and safety of the health care system. We know that it can be done, and this new initiative will help us reach our goal.”
HAIs are one of the most common complications of hospital care. Nearly 2 million patients develop HAIs, which contribute to 99,000 deaths each year and $28 billion to $33 billion in health care costs. HAIs are caused by different types of bacteria that infect patients being treated in a hospital or health care setting for other conditions. The most common HAI-causing bacteria is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The number of MRSA-associated hospital stays has more than tripled since 2000, reaching 368,600 in 2005, according to HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.
aOf the $17 million, $8 million will fund a national expansion of the Keystone Project, which within 18 months successfully reduced the rate of central-line blood stream infections in more than 100 Michigan intensive care units and saved 1,500 lives and $200 million. The project was originally started by the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association to implement a comprehensive unit-based safety program. The program involves using a checklist of evidence-based safety practices; staff training and other tools for preventing infections that can be implemented in hospital units; standard and consistent measurement of infection rates; and tools to improve teamwork.
Last year, AHRQ funded an expansion of this project to 10 states. With additional funding from AHRQ and a private foundation, the Keystone Project is now operating in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The new funding will expand the effort to more hospitals, extend it to other settings in addition to ICUs, and broaden the focus to address other types of infections.