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New CDC Tool Addresses Infections in Long-term Care

February 4, 2014

More than 3 million Americans receive care in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in these facilities. To help facilities address this problem the CDC has released a new website with resources to help clinical staff and residents prevent infections in long-term care facilities.

The resource can help protect residents’ health, but health officials also hope it will help the fight against antibiotic resistance, a major threat to health care and public health.

“The long-term care setting is an important sector to consider for the Georgia Healthcare Associated Infections Program, and our Advisory Committee recently discussed this newly released CDC website at our January 2014 meeting,” said Jeanne Negley who leads antimicrobial stewardship efforts at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH)

Health care workers in long-term care facilities currently face unique challenges because of the increase in the aging population. Similar to other health care settings, antibiotics are not always used appropriately in long-term care facilities.

“We know people are living longer and that the population of long-term care facilities has greatly increased in the past decade,” Negley said.

According to the CDC, an estimated 1.5 million infections occur annually in long-term care facilities, which result in 350,000 to 400,000 deaths.

Over the past few years, CDC and other health care agencies have begun to highlight the importance of infection prevention programs and activities in long-term health care settings. The new website includes segments of existing infection prevention guidance and resources for clinical staff, infection prevention coordinators and facility residents.

The website allows health care organizations to directly access the new infection tracking system for long-term care facilities in CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network. Other resources agencies can access through the website are infection prevention tools and resources developed by CDC and the Advancing Excellence in Nursing Homes Campaign.

The CDC has made great efforts to promote infection prevention in long-term care settings nationwide. DPH’s Healthcare Associated Infection program has largely focused on acute care settings in the past, but according to Negley, new resources will expand that focus.

The tools that the CDC’s website has provided “will facilitate our work in the long-term care setting,” said Negley.

In early May, the Georgia Healthcare Associated Infections Program will participate in an infection prevention training for long-term care facilities and will refer to the resources provided by the website.

The CDC’s infection prevention website for long-term care facilities provides a unique opportunity for health agencies across the nation to use the tools and resources provided to promote infection prevention in long-term care.