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Highlights

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health-care-associated infections (HAI)--infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions--are estimated to be 1 of the top 10 causes of death in the nation. This statement summarizes a report issued in March and released today, Health-Care-Associated Infections in Hospitals: Leadership Needed from HHS to Prioritize Prevention Practices and Improve Data on These Infections (GAO-08-283). In this report, GAO examined (1) CDC's guidelines for hospitals to reduce or prevent HAIs and what 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 (3) HHS programs that collect data related to HAIs and integration of the data across HHS. To conduct the work, GAO reviewed documents and interviewed HHS agency and accrediting organization officials.

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