Preventing Patient Infections

Health care-associated infections are infections that patients acquire after receiving treatment in the hospital. These may occur after surgery or after treatment with a device needed to improve a patient’s illness.

HAP Works With Pennsylvania Hospitals to Reduce Patient Infections

HAP is helping Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems to eliminate health care-associated infections such as:

  • Central Line Infection Prevention—Central line-associated bloodstream infections are serious infections that occur when germs enter the bloodstream through a central line. Central lines are tubes placed in a large vein in the neck, chest, or arm to give fluids, blood, or medications, or to perform certain medical tests. There are “bundles” of best practices that providers should follow during insertion and maintenance of the line. These practices help to prevent the line from infecting the blood. Every day, the staff should evaluate if the central line is still needed.
  • Catheter Infection Prevention—A urinary tract infection (UTI) in the bladder is the most common infection that patients develop while in the hospital. When a catheter is inserted, the risk of developing a UTI increases because bacteria can travel along the catheter tube into the bladder. These infections are called catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). The staff inserting the catheter should do it without contaminating the catheter and staff should secure it to the patient’s leg. The drainage bag should be located below the level of the bladder and drain freely. Every day, the staff should evaluate if the catheter is still needed.  
  • Ventilator Infection Prevention—Ventilator-associated pneumonia or event is a lung infection that develops in a person who is on a ventilator. A ventilator is a tube inserted into the lungs to help a patient breathe. While necessary for some patients, their lungs can be exposed to germs that enter the body through the tube. Staff help to prevent infections by keeping the head of the bed elevated. The patient is then monitored daily to see if they can be removed from the ventilator.
  • Surgical-Site Infection Prevention—When an incision is made into the skin during surgery or a medical procedure, the patient is at risk of microorganisms (such as bacteria from the skin) entering the body. This could cause the patient to develop a surgical site infection. There are “bundles” of best practices to help prevent surgical site infections. Some of these are performed by the patient such as bathing with an antibacterial soap the night before surgery and the morning before surgery. Sometimes the doctor orders a nose culture to look for harmful bacteria, and if the culture is positive, the doctor may order an ointment to kill off the bacteria. During surgery the staff keeps the patient warm, checks blood sugar and gives antibiotics and extra oxygen. All these help the body recover faster from the incision and surgery.
  • Clostridioides difficile Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial StewardshipClostridioides difficile infection (or C. diff) is a major health issue for elderly hospitalized patients. It is sometimes triggered by the use of antibiotics. Therefore, it is important that antibiotics be given only when needed and discontinued when appropriate. When home, patients should take their antibiotics as prescribed and not take a prescription that is not their own. Patients should not ask for an antibiotic when they have a viral infection. 

HAP Contacts

For more information or with questions, contact Mary Catanzaro, project manager. Media inquiries should be directed to Chris Daley, vice president, strategic communications.


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