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ARRA Funds To Reduce Health Care Associated Infections

Virginia has received a $1,063,554 grant in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for a program to reduce the incidence of health care-associated infections (HAI) in the state, the governor’s office announced Friday. These infections are acquired by patients while receiving treatment for another medical or surgical condition.

“By bringing together organizations and professionals who are on the front lines in providing safe and effective health care, we will develop and share best practices that will reduce and prevent healthcare-associated infections in the future,” Governor Timothy Kaine said. “Addressing these kinds of public health issues also help us in reducing our medical costs.”

The grant is from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which estimates that each year more than 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths are attributed to healthcare-associated infections in the United States.

In 2008, Virginia began requiring acute care hospitals to report data on certain severe bloodstream infections.  In the first six months of reporting, 159 such infections were reported.

The state will partner with the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, the Virginia Health Quality Center, and the Virginia chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology to develop a plan to reduce healthcare-associated infections in the state.

Other goals of the new program include:

•develop training programs to improve HAI surveillance and prevention;

• initiate pilot projects and validation efforts designed to improve HAI reporting;

• strengthen collaboration on HAI prevention measures across the state.

In addition to its focus on healthcare providers, the CDC has recommended that patients take an active role in HAI prevention.  Among the steps that CDC recommends for patients are:

• wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs;

• ask your healthcare provider if they are using a new needle, syringe or vial for a procedure or injection, ask when a central line catheter or urinary catheter can be removed;

• follow package directions to avoid taking too much medication and help prevent antibiotic resistance by taking all medications as prescribed;

• discuss steps you can take prior to surgery to reduce the risk of infection;

• tell your doctor if you have diarrhea;

• know the signs and symptoms of infection, including redness, pain, fever,  or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgical site;

• get a flu vaccine;

• talk with your doctor about any safety concerns.