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Hospital Acquired Infections

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the prevention of healthcare associated infections important?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year Americans get an estimated 1.7 million healthcare-associated infections. These preventable infections lead to 99,000 deaths and contribute to rising healthcare costs.

What are signs and symptoms of a healthcare-associated central line associated blood stream infection?

After the insertion of a central line (catheter inserted in a large vein for ongoing intravenous medication and blood draws for laboratory testing), one should monitor for signs and symptoms of infection: fever, soreness around the site along with inflammation, and redness surrounding catheter site.

What are the signs and symptoms of a surgical site infection?

Following a surgical procedure, symptoms of a surgical site infection include: fever, redness and inflammation surrounding the surgical wound.

What is being done to promote awareness about healthcare-associated infections in South Carolina?

The Hospital Infections Disclosure Act (HIDA) was passed in 2006 by SC state representatives ordering hospitals and other healthcare facilities to report both surgical site infections and central line associated bloodstream infections to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). DHEC collects this data and publishes annual reports summarizing the findings of the reported data. Reports are accessible to the hospitals reporting the data and to the general public via the HIDA SCAN module and through the DHEC HIDA website at: http://www.scdhec.gov/health/disease/hai/reports.htm

For tips and information on what you can do to help prevent healthcare-associated infections visit: http://www.scdhec.gov/health/disease/hai/residents.htm

Why should the public use the publicly reportable infection rates cautiously?

Every hospital is different in specialization and composition. Some hospitals have higher rates of critical care patients, who may have an increased risk of contracting a healthcare-associated infection. Some hospitals are very large while others may be very small. Some hospitals in South Carolina have units (e.g. trauma unit, burn center, etc.) that are at a greater risk for a higher infection rate. It is best to seek care where your physician recommends, alongside experienced practitioners in an area of medicine you currently need treatment for.

Are there any signs of improvement in lowering rates of healthcare-associated infections?

Yes. CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) infection rate data is already showing a decline in HAI rates thanks to increased prevention efforts and monitoring of infection rates. Increasingly, state and federal governments are also promoting HAI prevention in healthcare facilities.