According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health-care-associated infections (HAI) are estimated to be 1 of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. HAIs are infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions. GAO was asked to examine (1) CDC's guidelines for hospitals to reduce or prevent HAIs and what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) does to promote their implementation, (2) Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) and hospital accrediting organizations' required standards for hospitals to reduce or prevent HAIs and how compliance is assessed, and (3) HHS programs that collect data related to HAIs and integration of the data across HHS. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from CDC, CMS, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and accrediting organizations.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Health and Human Services||In order to help reduce HAIs in hospitals, the Secretary of HHS should identify priorities among CDC's recommended practices and determine how to promote implementation of the prioritized practices, including whether to incorporate selected practices into CMS's conditions of participation (COP) for hospitals.|
|Department of Health and Human Services||In order to help reduce HAIs in hospitals, the Secretary of HHS should establish greater consistency and compatibility of the data collected across HHS on HAIs to increase information available about HAIs, including reliable national estimates of the major types of HAIs.|