U.S. hospitals have made strides in cutting the rates of hospital-acquired infections caused by the deadly superbugs MRSA and C. difficile, but officials say more work is needed to reduce infections, which affect 1 in 25 patients each day.
In a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, blood infections caused by central line catheters — tubes inserted into a large vein to deliver medicine to critically ill patients — fell 46% between 2008 and 2013.
The report also showed a 19% drop in surgery-related infections associated with 10 procedures between 2008 and 2013. Procedures on that list include heart and colon surgeries and hysterectomies.
“Hospitals have made real progress to reduce some types of healthcare-associated infections — it can be done,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said a statement.
U.S. hospitals made strides in controlling infections from some of the most worrisome pathogens. In the report, bloodstream infections caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, a drug-resistant strain of staph bacteria, fell by 8% between 2011 and 2013.
U.S. hospitals also showed a 10% drop in C. difficile infections, an opportunistic diarrheal infection that preys on sick patients whose protective gut bacteria has been destroyed by antibiotics, allowing invaders such as C. difficile to flourish.
Despite the progress, the report said more work is needed to reduce infection rates.
Between 2008 and 2013, hospitals showed a 6% increase in urinary tract infections associated with the use of urinary catheters, it said.
Such infections can occur when these devices are inserted improperly or left in a patient too long, allowing germs to infect the bladder and kidneys. Preliminary figures for 2014 suggest the rates of these infections are beginning to drop, the CDC said.
Frieden said the findings suggest that every hospital can make improvements in reducing infection rates. The key is having a rigorous infection control plan, he said. Preventing such infections could help reduce demand for antibiotics, helping to slow a rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.