Infection Control: 2015 in Review December 29 2015

In 2015 infection control continued to be of paramount importance in hospital operations and entered the news headlines on multiple occasions. From concern about superbug infections associated with duodenoscopes to ebola and resurgence of vaccine preventable illness, infection control has entered mainstream health conversations across the nation. As an organization committed to helping healthcare facilities minimize healthcare associated infections, we challenge our partners and clients to continuously evaluate ways in which we can come together to promote the adoption of policies that improve patient safety - whether its being more careful about hand and equipment sanitation or taking the time to ensure patients understand the risks and benefits associated with declining vaccines. Below we have shared a link to the Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality review of the top stories of 2015 including increased plague infections, duodenoscope sanitation debate, misdiagnosis in the headlines, increased cases of Legionnaires disease and NTM infections as a risk associated with open-heart surgery. 

Infection control in the US: 2015 year in review

In a year when quality and infection control in healthcare has been top-of-mind for healthcare executives as these two elements are increasingly tied to their organizations' bottom lines, it was difficult to choose just five events to highlight in this "year in review" piece. But the Becker's Clinical Quality and Infection Control editorial team did just that.

For reference, we did something similar in the middle of 2015. In that piece, we listed the following five stories:

  • Superbug infections linked to duodenoscopes
  • Hospital Compare star ratings launch
  • Risk of low-volume surgeries uncovered
  • Ebola treatment and preparation in the U.S.
  • Antibiotic resistance in focus

Building on those, here are five more infection control and patient safety stories from 2015 that affected hospitals, resulted in changed processes or uncovered new safety risks. They are presented in no particular order.

Plague on the rise

Even though many people consider the plague to be a medieval problem, the U.S. has seen several plague cases within its borders this year. The plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and generally spreads to humans when they are bit by a rodent flea or they handle an animal with the plague. According to the CDC, 16 cases of plague have been reported in the U.S. through Nov. 16, and four of those people have died.

That is well above the usual number of U.S. plague cases: According to CDC data, the annual number of plague cases has ranged from one to 17 between 2001 and 2012, with the median being just three cases per year.

"It is unclear why the number of cases in 2015 is higher than usual," the CDC said in a report issued at the end of August, but it did encourage healthcare workers to consider a plague diagnosis when patients present with common signs or symptoms of plague, have traveled to the western U.S., and have been in proximity with rodents and their habitats or with ill domestic animals.

Fortunately, since the dawn of the antibiotic era, plague mortality has fallen from as high as 93 percent down to 16 percent. The key to survival is early treatment with an antibiotic such as aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones or doxycycline....Continue reading at Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality website.