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Experts Explore CDC’s “Winnable Battles” in Infectious Disease with Contagion


Healthcare-Associated Infections

CDC’s extensive record of tracking healthcare-associated infections has included formulating and promoting evidence-based guidance for prevention and control. Despite these measures, many infections were not being thwarted.

“We needed to develop a new normal in which healthcare-associated infections are considered unacceptable and rare events,” the “Winnable Battles” report noted. Making an impact would require dedication from traditional and new public health and healthcare stakeholders at federal, state, local and health systems, as well as providers and patients. Embracing more transparency and accountability became paramount.

CDC’s emerging infections program now entails tracking progress via population-based surveillance. “It accounts not only for what’s going on within the walls of healthcare facilities, but also outside the walls as well as in the broader community,” said Arjun Srinivasan, MD, associate director for CDC’s Healthcare-Associated Infection Prevention Programs.

Driving implementation of best practices is part of the agency’s multi-pronged strategy to combat healthcare-associated infections. The task involves educating providers about proper disinfection of medical devices, such as intravenous lines and catheters. “The biggest difficulty that we encounter is some of the complexity of healthcare delivery,” Dr. Srinivasan said.

A field of social science called “human factors engineering” could form the basis of team collaboration to prevent infections. In such a framework, providers would benefit from consulting with infection control personnel in hospitals where they see patients. They could inquire, “What are the best practices? What should I be following?” he explained.

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