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Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections that patients acquire while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions. HAIs occur in all settings of care, including acute care within hospitals and same day surgical centers, ambulatory outpatient care in healthcare clinics, and in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. HAIs are associated with a variety of causes, including (but not limited to) the use of medical devices, such as catheters and ventilators, complications following a surgical procedure, transmission between patients and healthcare workers, or the result of antibiotic overuse.

Healthcare-associated infections exact a significant toll on human life. They are among the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths in 2002. In hospitals, they are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality (1). Hospital stays for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection have more than tripled since 2000 and have increased nearly ten-fold since 1995 (2).

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is partnering with Iowa hospital professionals to coordinate efforts to reduce and prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in Iowa.

The IDPH, along with the HAI Prevention Steering Committee, has developed a statewide HAI Prevention Plan. The plan will guide statewide efforts to work with healthcare facilities, community partners (such as the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative) and governmental agencies to prevent and reduce HAIs, and to establish HAI prevention collaboratives.

(1) Klevens RM, Edwards J, Richards C, Horan T, Gaynes R, Pollock D, Cardo D. Estimating Health Care-Associated Infections and Deaths in U.S. Hospitals, 2002. Public Health Reports 2007; 122:160-166.

(2) Elixhauser A and Steiner C. Infections with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in U.S. Hospitals, 1993-2005. AHRQ Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief 2007; 35:1-10.

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For more information on HAI's:

  • Call (515) 242-5935, or
  • 1 (800) 362-2736, or
  • Use the "Contact Us" page to submit questions online.