Issue Brief

No. 830

Health Care-Associated Infections: Is There an End in Sight?
March 13, 2009


Lisa Sprague, MBA


Health care‚Äďassociated infections (HAIs) have emerged as a significant concern in policy as well as clinical circles. An HAI is an infection acquired during treatment for another condition. Some of the HAI-causing bacteria have become drug-resistant; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a familiar example. Tied to perhaps 100,000 deaths and $20 billion in health care costs each year, HAIs have given rise to state laws, legislative proposals at the federal level, public-private initiatives, and work at the hospital system and individual hospital level. However, much remains to be done. This issue brief reviews the prevalence of HAIs and the strategies for and barriers to reducing their incidence. It examines the roles of public- and private-sector entities in reporting, monitoring, and eliminating HAIs. Policy responses such as research funding, training specifications, and payment adjustments are considered.

Related Materials

See also the entry for the related Forum Session (April 8, 2009).

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