Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that HAIs annually account for 1.7 million infections, 99,000 associated deaths, and a cost of approximately $30 billion. Nonreimbursement of some of these HAIs by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, public reporting of data (currently in 27 states), and the statistics listed above are driving quality initiatives to reduce or eliminate HAIs. However, a 2009 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality showed that little progress has been made towards eliminating HAIs. Reducing the risk of healthcare-associated infections is the Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goal Number 7. Cardiac surgery has always been at the leading edge of innovation and quality care. Improvements in this field have been brought about by the needs of critically ill patients who are at high risk of death and by leaders such as Dr. Michael DeBakey who were driven to provide excellence in patient care. One of the prime examples of quality initiatives in cardiac surgery has been the development of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) National Database. This has helped to develop benchmarks by which different institutions are measured. The STS database will lead another initiative by providing public presentation of hospital- and surgeon-specific data in the near future. Even so, cardiac surgery patients are at especially high risk of developing HAIs. Use of invasive devices such as central lines, urinary catheters, ventilators, etc. - all of which are commonly utilized in the care of cardiac surgical patients - is one of the most significant risk factors for acquiring HAIs. Cardiac patients also have significant co-morbidities such as diabetes, obesity, increasing frailty, advanced age, and multiple redo-operations. This combination makes our patients more vulnerable to HAIs. Accordingly, in 2010 the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists (SCA) Foundation launched the FOCUS (Flawless Operative Cardiovascular Unified Systems) Cardiac Surgery Patient Safety Initiative to help eliminate infections in cardiac surgery patients, especially catheter-related infections. This publication will briefly discuss the four most common infections and strategies to reduce HAIs and will touch on some of the infection-control experiences from the Methodist DeBakey Heart & vascular Center (MDHVC).
ASJC Scopus subject areas