For Immediate Release
October 15, 2012

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

KDHE Celebrates International Infection Prevention Week

Governor Brownback Encourages All Health Care Providers to Renew Efforts to Prevent HAIs

TOPEKA, Kan. - International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) provides a focal point for infection preventionists, healthcare professionals, consumers, organizations and industry partners to shine a light on infection prevention and its power to save lives. This year, Governor Sam Brownback proclaimed Oct. 14-20 as International Infection Prevention Week in Kansas. The Governor encourages all health care providers in Kansas healthcare facilities to renew their efforts to prevent healthcare associated infections (HAIs) and to bring attention to the statewide plan to reduce the occurrence of HAIs. 

HAIs are infections that patients acquire during the course of receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare setting. “HAIs can be major clinical and public health problems occurring in all healthcare settings,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “Fortunately, Kansas has a robust network of skilled specialists and a committed hospital association working 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 U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 5 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.

With assistance from a diverse multidisciplinary Advisory Group, comprised of stakeholders with expertise in infection prevention, KDHE has developed a state-wide plan to quantify and reduce the occurrence of HAIs. The Healthcare- Associated Infections Program focuses on supporting HAI surveillance and reporting efforts and promotes adherence to nation-ally based guidelines and recommendations to reduce the occurrence of HAIs.

All Kansas hospitals have been asked to voluntarily use the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) database and report data on four priority prevention targets: central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), Clostridium difficile infections and surgical site infection (SSI) data for abdominal hysterectomy and colon surgeries. Currently over 70 facilities, representing more than 95 percent of staffed ICU beds in Kansas, are reporting data which will be reported in aggregate later this year.

“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.” Infection Prevention and Control programs have been widely recognized to be both clinically effective and cost-effective in preventing and controlling the spread of infections in health care settings.

Patients also have a role to play in preventing these dangerous infections. Everyone can help prevent the spread of infections by taking basic steps to lower the risk of getting an HAI, such as:

To learn more about the Kansas Healthcare Associated Infections Program, contact Joseph Scaletta at (785) 296-4090.