• CDC - Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Preventing Healthcare-associated Infections


Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a threat to patient safety. CDC provides national leadership in surveillance, outbreak investigations, laboratory research, and prevention of healthcare-associated infections. CDC uses knowledge gained through these activities to detect infections and develop new strategies to prevent healthcare-associated infections. Public health action by CDC and other healthcare partners has led to improvements in clinical practice, medical procedures, and the ongoing development of evidence-based infection control guidance and prevention successes.

Antibiotics and similar drugs, together called antimicrobial agents, have been used for the last 70 years to treat patients who have infectious diseases. Since the 1940s,​ these drugs have greatly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. However, these drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective.

Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-associated Infections

The prevention and reduction of healthcare-associated infections is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HHS Steering Committee for the Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections was established in July 2008, the Steering Committee, along with scientists and program officials across HHS, developed the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections, providing a roadmap for HAI prevention in acute care hospitals.

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