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Healthcare-Associated Infections in Nursing Homes: Why Is Research Limited?


Nicola Thompson, PhD, Epidemiologist, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), explains why research and surveillance of HAIs in US nursing homes has been limited.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“I think it has been hard, and it is hard to do research or surveillance work in nursing homes, and that’s borne out when you go to the literature and reviews and look for information on the prevalence of infections, or the incidence of infections in nursing homes.
Studies that get done tend to occur in small numbers in facilities in relatively small geographic areas that seem to be led by people who are academics, who are highly engaged in nursing homes. So, it’s people outside of the nursing home facility that have interest and are able to get projects going. I think that a lot of [what’s] been missing is the strong, and ongoing infrastructure for nursing homes to be do this work on their own, and it’s challenging.
Many people believe that working in nursing home settings, they’re a potentially vulnerable population, or a tough population to work with for many reasons, and steer away from that. But, I think that we got to a point in time now where we know enough about the epidemiology of healthcare-associated infections, and how transmission occurs, and really understanding how this patient movement from one healthcare [setting] to another can really propagate the transmission of infections.
So, looking at healthcare as a single setting, focusing just on acute care or just on outpatient care, or just on nursing home care, you really miss the big picture and understanding how infections occur and how they manifest and transmit between these different settings is key in terms of developing interventions that can lead to prevention.”
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