Pharmacy OneSource Blog

The Role of Superbugs in Hospital-Acquired Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published their latest report on the status of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in March 2016. This HAI Progress Report1 includes national and individual state summaries of six types of HAIs based on 2014 data.

Findings for acute care hospitals show that antibiotic-resistant organisms caused:

  • 1 in 6 central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs)
  • 1 in 10 catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs)
  • 1 in 7 surgical site infections (SSIs)

These numbers increase to 1 in 4 infections in long-term acute care hospitals where the average length of stay is greater than 25 days.

CDC reported that the six antibiotic-resistant organisms of concern are:

  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Extended-spectrum Beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing Enterobacteriaceae
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
  • Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter

The good news is that U.S. hospitals are getting better at preventing most HAIs. Data show:

  • A 50% decrease in CLABSIs between 2008 and 2014
  • A 17% decrease in SSIs between 2008 and 2014 related to 10 procedures tracked in previous reports
  • No change in overall CAUTIs between 2009 and 2014

The report also examines the role of C. difficile in HAIs. In 2011, C. diff caused almost a half million infections in the U.S. alone but between 2011 and 2014 with hospital-onset C. difficile decreasing by 8%.

Recognizing the emerging threat of antibiotic resistance, Congress appropriated $160 million in new CDC funding to implement the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria.2 The funding will be used to:

  • Accelerate outbreak detection and prevention in every state
  • Enhance tracking of resistance mechanisms and resistant infections
  • Support innovative research to address current gaps in knowledge
  • Improve appropriate antibiotic use

Does the incidence of antibiotic resistance in your facility reflect CDC’s findings? Do you see the same antibiotic-resistant organisms: CRE, MRSA, ESBLs, VRE, resistant Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter? Are you implementing an antimicrobial stewardship program? Do you have the support of an infectious disease physician and pharmacy?


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthcare-associated infections. Healthcare-associated Infections (HAI) Progress Report (Updated March 2016).
  2. National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria. 

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