Healthcare-Associated Infections

Housekeeping staff cleaning hospital room.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), infections patients can acquire while receiving medical treatment in a healthcare facility, are a major, yet often preventable, threat to patient safety. Some of these infections do not respond to drugs such as antibiotics, making them dangerous for all people, but especially for people with weakened immune systems. Together with health care and public health partners, the Vermont Department of Health and the CDC are working to bring increased attention to prevention of HAIs.

To protect patients, more work needs to be done. The CDC recommends three strategies that health care providers should take with every patient, every time, to prevent HAIs and stop the spread of antibiotic resistance:

  • Prevent the spread of bacteria and other microorganisms (viruses, fungi) between patients.
  • Prevent infections related to surgery and/or catheters.
  • Improve antibiotic use.

The good news is that CDC has identified prevention of HAIs as winnable battles – a public health priority with large-scale effects on health and known effective strategies to address it.

Preventing Healthcare-associated infections in Vermont

The Department of Health has a state HAI Plan to guide HAI prevention efforts. These include:

The AMR Challenge

In May 2019, the Health Department joined the U.S. government's Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge, an effort to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance across the globe. The Health Department is committing to combat antibiotic resistance with improvements in infection prevention by:

  • Working closely with Vermont's 15 acute hospitals to ensure containment measures are in place within 24 hours of identification.
  • Expanding the list of resistant organisms that are reportable by law.
  • Strengthening the link between clinical labs and the Antimicrobial (AR) Lab Network, which results in more rapid response for detecting resistance.

In This Section

Vermont aims to reduce the transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms between healthcare facilities.

Staphylococcus aureus, also known as staph, is a very common bacterium that can live on the skin or in the noses of healthy people.

Patients with compromised immune systems are at a much higher risk for a CRE infection.

The elderly and people who require long term use of antibiotics are at a higher risk of becoming infected with C. difficile

Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria, they do not fight viral infections like the common cold and the flu.

Unsafe injection practices can be a serious threat to a patient’s health.