Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Hospitals Move Closer to Meeting Goal of 50 Percent Drop in Central Line Infections

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

February 11, 2013 -- Hospitals continue to show progress toward reducing certain types of infections that patients contract in their facilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week.

The findings show that in 2011, the most recent year for which such data are available, the number of infections associated with the "central line"—a tube placed in the vein or chest of a hospital patient to deliver important medicines—fell by 41 percent compared to 2008 baseline figures. "Progress in preventing these infections was seen in intensive care units, wards and neonatal ICUs in all reporting facilities," CDC said in a news release.

The figures were based on data from CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network, which tracks infections in some 11,500 health care facilities in the United States and Puerto Rico.

In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services set the goal of reducing central-line infections by 50 percent by December 2013. In 2010, the number was down by 32 percent compared to 2008. So the 41 percent figure for 2011 shows hospitals inching closer to the 50 percent standard as compared to 2010.

CDC also reported a drop in 2011 of 17 percent since 2008 in certain surgical-site infections. In 2010, hospitals had only achieved a drop of 7 percent, so these figures, too, showed progress. The HHS goal for reducing surgical-site infections by December 2013 is 25 percent compared to 2008 figures.

However, "this improvement was not evident for all procedure types, and there is still substantial opportunity for improvement across a range of operative procedures," said the news release.

Overall, "the significant decrease in central-line and surgical-site infections means that thousands of patients avoid prolonged hospitalizations and the risk of dying in the hospital," said Patrick Conway, chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). "Providers, working with CDC and CMS, are fulfilling Medicare's quality measurement reporting requirements for hospital infections and demonstrating that, together, we can dramatically improve the safety and quality of care of patients."

Hospitals did not improve in 2011 when it came to urinary tract infections associated with catheters, however. These infections are a worry because patients who get them are more likely to need antibiotics. "While antibiotics are critical for treating bacterial infections, they can also put patients at risk for other complications, including a deadly diarrhea," CDC said.

Publication Details