The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have each released new tools and information to help track deadly healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in nursing homes and other long-term care settings. Potentially deadly HAIs strike volumes of nursing home residents each year, with best estimates suggesting that up to 2.8 million infections can occur in this population annually.
Published online this week in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of SHEA, an expert panel published updated infection definitions and guidance that provides uniform criteria for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to track and monitor HAIs. The updated surveillance definitions, coordinated by SHEA's Long-Term Care Special Interest Group, incorporate evidence published over the past two decades, with definitions for norovirus gastroenteritis and Clostridium difficile infections added and more specific definitions for urinary tract infections included.
In parallel, CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) released a new tracking component, allowing nursing homes and other long term care facilities to monitor HAIs. The newly published guidance serves as the foundation of the new NHSN component. When facilities track infections, they can identify problems, implement prevention measures, and monitor progress toward stopping infections. State and local health officials can also use the system to monitor the impact of regional prevention efforts. On the national level, data entered into NHSN will gauge progress toward national infection prevention goals.