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AHRQ Awards $34 Million to Continue Fight Against Healthcare-Associated Infections

By CQ Staff

November 2, 2011 -- Federal officials recently announced $34 million in grants and contracts to hospitals, academic medical institutions and health care research organizations to fight against health care–associated infections (HAIs).

This is the latest patient safety effort by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has been working under its Partnership for Patients initiative to make hospital stays safer for patients.

In July, federal officials announced that more than 2,000 hospitals and 2,500 other organizations have signed on to a voluntary Medicare initiative aimed at reducing medical errors in the nation's health care system. 

"Infections are not an inevitable consequence of health care; they are preventable," said Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which is funding the projects. "With this investment, we are building on proven strategies to give doctors and health care teams the help they need to ensure that patients are safe from infections."

The money will help pay for projects to develop, test and spread the use of new modules of the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), a proven method to prevent and reduce HAIs.

According to AHRQ, since 2008 the agency has been promoting the nationwide adoption of CUSP to reduce central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs). The new modules target three additional infections that are also areas of focus for the Partnership for Patients:

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections, the most common HAI.
  • Surgical site infections, a complication that can occur at the incision site or deeper within the body.
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia, which can occur in patients who require mechanically assisted breathing. This new module will be pilot tested in two states with funding from the HHS Office of Healthcare Quality.

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