An estimated 5-10% of hospitalized patients experience a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) every year, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Prevention of HAIs is a top priority, and HAIs are the focus of multiple national and state reporting requirements and prevention initiatives. Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and other small rural hospitals generally have less experience in HAI reporting and fewer infection-control staff resources than larger facilities, however, which can make implementing HAI programs challenging. This policy brief focuses on successful evidence-based programs and strategies for measuring, reducing, and preventing HAIs that can be replicated in CAHs. It focuses on the following types of HAIs: CLABSI, CAUTI, MRSA, and CDI. Key Findings:
- Lack of trained infection control staff, multiple job responsibilities, and high turnover make it challenging to implement healthcare-associated infection (HAI) activities in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs).
- Collaborating across hospitals and leveraging existing resources are effective ways to help CAHs implement HAI-prevention initiatives.
- CAHs have successfully participated in several national and state initiatives to reduce and prevent HAIs, including “On the CUSP” programs, Hospital Engagement Networks, and initiatives sponsored by Quality Improvement Organizations, state health departments, state hospital associations, and other key partners.
- Many resources and tools are available online to help CAHs decrease HAIs.
Another FMT policy brief addresses reporting of HAIs by CAHs.