For Immediate Release
March 22, 2010

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

State Releases Healthcare-Associated Infections State Plan

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), in conjunction with an advisory group of experts, has developed the Kansas Healthcare-Associated Infections State Plan. That plan will be available online Monday, March 22 at http://www.kdheks.gov/epi/index.html.

“KDHE has developed a plan to address HAIs with the assistance of a multidisciplinary advisory group of experts in epidemiology, infection control, clinical medicine and hospital administration,” said Roderick Bremby, Secretary of KDHE.

Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) remain a major cause of morbidity, mortality and excess medical cost in the United States. An estimated five to 10 percent of all hospital admissions are complicated by HAIs. Approximately 1.7 million infections and nearly 100,000 deaths attributable to HAI occur each year nationally. The financial burden of HAIs has been estimated at $33 billion annually.

“We can beat these infections if we can get a better understanding of why they are occurring in Kansas,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, State Health Officer.  “Fortunately, many of the most effective preventive measures for HAIs are relatively simple.”

To support state efforts to address HAIs, funding for HAI prevention has been enhanced through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which Kansas received in September 2009. As a result of Recovery Act funding, State HAI Program Director and Epidemiologist positions have been established with KDHE to oversee the program activities.

“Our goal with this plan is to work with healthcare facilities to develop the capacity for and begin implementation of a statewide surveillance system,” Charlie Hunt, State Epidemiologist, said. “From there, we can look at the data, see what’s occurring at a state level and develop standards to reduce the risk of HAIs.”

The Kansas plan focuses on four major activity areas: State Program Infrastructure; Surveillance, Detection, Reporting and Response; Prevention; and Evaluation and Communications.

“By working with an advisory group, KDHE is able to receive valuable input on provider participation, barriers and necessary support, not only in the development of the plan but as we work toward implementation,” Hunt said.

Participants in the advisory group include the Kansas Hospital Association (KHA); Kansas Medical Society (KMS); Kansas Foundation for Medical Care; Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) Chapters of Kansas City, Wichita and Heart of America, Shawnee Mission Medical Center; Via Christi Health; University of Kansas Medical Center and the KHA/KMS Kansas Healthcare Collaborative.