CDC reports significant rise in healthcare-associated infections

Many US acute care hospitals have seen an increase in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)—including serious drug-resistant threats—in 2021, in “contrast with the success in reducing these infections prior to the pandemic,” according to a new report, highlighting once again the need for policy to encourage the development of new antimicrobials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2021 National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) Progress Report found that, compared to 2020, infection rates increased in 2021 for four of six regularly tracked infections:

  • catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs)—5% increase;
  • central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs)—7% increase;
  • ventilator-associated events (VAEs)—12% increase;
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—14% increase.

The report adds that, while rates of surgical-site infections (SSIs) held steady, Clostridioides difficile infections in hospital-onset decreased by 3% in 2021.

“In 2021, many hospitals continued to face extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic that may have reduced the implementation of standard infection prevention and control practices,” says the CDC HAI progress report, which analyzed data from acute care hospitals, critical access hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long-term acute care hospitals.

It added that the “largest increases were seen in intensive care units.”

Per the CDC report, “approximately 1 in 31 US hospital patients, and 1 in 43 nursing home residents, contracts at least one infection linked to their healthcare” each day, underscoring “the need for improvements in patient care practices in U.S. healthcare facilities.”

HAIs and antimicrobial resistance highlight need for PASTEUR Act

As the CDC notes HAIs include infections “caused by antibiotic-resistant organisms. At least 2 million people in the United States become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year and more than 23,000 people die from these infections.”

The report, is the latest evidence of the need for the PASTEUR act, described as “urgent” by Emily Wheeler, BIO’s Director of Infectious Disease Policy, who has written that “patients are getting sicker in our hospitals, and we just don’t have the tools we need to help them.” We need new antimicrobials to fight antimicrobial-resistant drugs, but the current market does not support development of these new drugs, she says.

Under the proposed PASTEUR Act, market incentives for the development of life-saving antimicrobial drugs would be created by the federal government in a “Netflix-style subscription model for novel antimicrobials, where hospitals or governments pay a fee for as much or as little is needed.” The act is needed because antimicrobial resistance has become a leading cause of death, directly responsible for 1.2 million deaths worldwide in 2019, and threatens to kill more people annually than cancer by 2050.

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