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:
- Monitoring our state’s progress in preventing infections through Hospital Report Cards and CDC reports.
- Improving antibiotic use by supporting efforts to ensure that patients get the right antibiotic at the right time for the correct dose and duration.
- Coordinating the statewide Collaborative to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (C-PHAR) to prevent multidrug-resistant infections in health care settings.
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.