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February 2009
Volume 19 Issue 2
Policy and Advocacy
Federal HAI Prevention Plan is “Important First Step”

Federal plans to reduce health care-associated infections (HAIs) are a good first step but fall short, according to IDSA and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). SHEA and IDSA on February 6 submitted joint comments to the Department of Health and Human Serivces (HHS) on the Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections.

The HHS Action Plan establishes a set of five-year national prevention targets for enhancing and coordinating HHS-supported efforts to prevent and reduce HAIs, as well as metrics to assess progress toward these targets. These targets include development of national benchmarks, prioritized recommended clinical practices, a coordinated research agenda, an integrated information systems strategy, and a national messaging plan. The plan also identifies opportunities for collaboration with national, state, tribal, and local organizations.

SHEA and IDSA support efforts to improve coordination among agencies—for example by developing standard terms and measures to ensure quality data, sharing best practices, engaging partners, coordinating research activities, and disseminating information.

But although the HHS plan is an "important first step," SHEA and IDSA believe that the Action Plan falls short in a number of ways: It does not contain well-defined action items with defined deliverables. It includes a set of metrics with associated targets, but no clear roadmap for each agency as to how the specific targets are to be achieved. It references alignment among agencies, but it is not clear how alignment will be attained. Finally, it does not include a summary of progress to date, which would allow agencies to build on efforts already underway.

Given the critical need to engage providers, state health departments, and consumers in any effort to reduce HAIs, SHEA and IDSA urged HHS to provide additional, timely opportunities for stakeholder input and involvement.

Links to the proposed national action plan and the joint SHEA/IDSA response can be found online.
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