Reducing the Risk of Hospital-Acquired Infections
Historically, hospital-acquired infections have been a considerable problem in our country. According to The Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 2 million infections and more than 90,000 infection-related deaths each year. Hospital-acquired infections further weaken someone who is already sick and may lead to the need for additional medication or surgery, an extended hospital stay, and lasting side effects. Treating these infections costs the health care system billions of dollars – money that could be spent on improving patient care.
UPMC is a national leader in preventing and reducing hospital-acquired infections. In 2001, UPMC’s Infection Control Division started a MRSA initiative, which involves identifying patients at high risk for this infection. After identifying this group, UPMC implemented appropriate safety measures to prevent MRSA transmission to other patients. These efforts resulted in an 85 percent reduction of MRSA hospital-acquired infections. The program was then rolled out to all hospitals across the system. Now UPMC has expanded these interventions to include other high-risk patients.
UPMC also addresses infection control in the community. We have extended our efforts to assist school nurses and other organizations in reducing the spread of infections in their facilities. Additionally, we’re working with our community of health care providers in Western Pennsylvania to establish protocols to reduce and eliminate hospital-acquired infections. The Centers for Disease Control has recognized our success in infection reduction. They have named UPMC a Center of Excellence in this field and are modeling our practices in other parts of the country.
UPMC has a very aggressive, proactive system-wide infection control program in place to help protect our patients from infection. Our infection reduction efforts include a wide array of practices from encouraging hand hygiene for staff and visitors at UPMC facilities to bundling medical supplies together so that it is easy for hospital staff to follow infection-prevention protocols.
Patients and their family members are encouraged to become active participants in UPMC’s infection prevention initiatives. To help prevent infection:
- Wash your hands often
- Insist that your health care provider wash his or her hands
- Inquire about the cleanliness of equipment and the use of sterilized bundles