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Decline in Potentially Lethal Hospital-Based Infections
Date:5/27/2010

CDC finds 'central line' catheter-linked illnesses fall 18 percent across the U.S.

THURSDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitals across the United States are seeing a decrease of serious, often deadly infections from catheters placed in patients' necks, called central line catheters, a new report finds.

"Health care-associated infections are a significant medical and public health problem in the United States," Dr. Don Wright, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Healthcare Quality in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said during a noon teleconference Thursday.

Bloodstream infections occur when bacteria from the patient's skin or from the environment get into the blood. "These are serious infections that can cause death," said Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, the associate director for Healthcare-Associated Infection Prevention Programs in CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

Central lines can be important conduits for these infections, he said. These lines are typically reserved for the sickest patients and are usually inserted into the large blood vessels of the neck. Once in place, they are used to provide medications and help monitor patients.

"It has been estimated that there are approximately 1.7 million health care-associated infections in hospitals alone each and every year, resulting in 100,000 lives lost and an additional $30 billion in health care costs," Wright said.

In 2009, HHS started a program aimed at eliminating health care-related infections, the experts said. One goal: to cut central line infections by 50 percent by 2013.

To this end, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released its latest update on the progress so far.

The report represents the first consistent tracking of blood infections caused by central venous lines across 17 states and "the results of the report are encouraging," Wright said.'/>"/>

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