I have written quite a bit — probably far too much for the average person’s taste — about the poor state of hand hygiene in hospitals, and the resulting proliferation of bacterial infections. I often think I should shut up already about this problem. After all, it’s been 10 years since the Institute of Medicine’s damning report “To Err Is Human.”
Well, after taking at look at the latest National Healthcare Quality Report, I think I won’t be shutting up any time soon. Despite a lot of effort and innovation, despite a wise checklist approach, the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better:
Infections acquired during hospital care, also known as nosocomial infections, are one of the most serious patient safety concerns. It is unfortunate that HAI [hospital-acquired infection] rates are not declining. Of all the measures in the NHQR measure set, the one worsening at the fastest rate is postoperative sepsis (Table H.3). The two process measures related to HAIs tracked in the NHQR, both covering timely receipt of prophylactic antibiotics for surgery, are improving steadily. However, HAI outcome measures are lagging; only one shows improvement over time while three are worsening and one shows no change. This may, in part, reflect improving detection of HAI’s.