The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced today that it has awarded $34 million in fiscal year 2011 for grants and contracts to hospitals, academic medical institutions and health care research organizations to expand the fight against healthcare-associated infections. HAIs affect one in 20 patients in hospitals. These projects and others funded by the agency help to attain the goals of HHS' Partnership for Patients initiative, a nationwide public-private partnership that aims to make care safer for patients and reduce unnecessary return visits to the hospital while making care less costly.
"Infections are not an inevitable consequence of health care; they are preventable," said AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. "With this investment, we are building on proven strategies to give doctors and healthcare teams the help they need to ensure that patients are safe from infections."
These awards include 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. Since 2008, AHRQ 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, and ventilator-associated pneumonia. This new module will be pilot tested in two states with funding from the HHS Office of Healthcare Quality.
Other newly funded projects include research on ways of reducing infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile. These AHRQ-funded projects also contribute to implementing the strategies outlined in the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections, which is aligned with the goals of the Partnership for Patients, and which is supported by a wide variety of HHS divisions.