For Immediate Release
October 14, 2010

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

Governor signs proclamation declaring October 17-23 as International Infection Prevention Week

Governor Mark Parkinson signed a proclamation today declaring October 17-23 as International Infection Prevention Week to bring attention to Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) in Kansas and the statewide plan to reduce the occurrence of HAIs.

Healthcare-Associated Infections are infections that patients acquire during the course of receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare setting. 

“They are a major clinical and public health problem that occurs in all healthcare settings,” said Roderick Bremby, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary.  “It’s important to study this problem and know where and when to take action. Fortunately, Kansas has a robust network of skilled Infection Preventionists that work tirelessly to protect patient safety.  We honor them and their important work this week.”

HAIs are a major cause of morbidity, mortality and excess cost in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated five to 10 percent of all hospital admissions are complicated by HAIs.   Approximately 1.7 million infections and nearly 100,000 deaths are attributable to HAIs each year.  The financial burden of these infections has been estimated at $33 billion annually, a staggering figure at a time when our economy is suffering and demands on the healthcare system are increasing.

Using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), KDHE has developed a statewide plan to quantify and reduce the occurrence of HAIs.  The Healthcare-Associated Infections Program will focus on supporting HAI surveillance and reporting, and improving efforts by healthcare providers who are seeking to meet new national standards to reduce HAIs.  Prior to this initiative HAI surveillance and prevention efforts in Kansas  had traditionally been internally driven by infection prevention staff within individual facilities. 

All Kansas hospitals have been asked to voluntarily use the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) database and report data on two of the three priority prevention targets: central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and Clostridium Difficile infections.  Thus far, 119 Infection Preventionist staff from 76 healthcare facilities have been trained on NHSN reporting and additional training is planned for the future as the program develops.

 “These types of data have never been comprehensively collected in Kansas,” said Joseph Scaletta, KDHE Healthcare-Associated Infections Program Director. “For KDHE, its partners, healthcare facilities and organizations around the state, and nationally, this is an extremely exciting opportunity to quantify the burden of HAIs and will allow us to begin to identify areas where improvements can be made.”

At present, there are five healthcare facilities in Kansas actively sharing data with KDHE through the NHSN system and data from approximately 50 facilities is expected to be shared with KDHE by January 2011.