AHRQ's Healthcare-Associated Infections Program
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are among the leading threats to patient safety, affecting one out of every 25 hospital patients at any one time. Over a million HAIs occur across the U.S. health care system every year, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives and adding billions of dollars to health care costs.
AHRQ’s HAI program funds work to help frontline clinicians and other health care staff prevent HAIs by improving how care is actually delivered to patients. This work is accomplished through a robust portfolio of grants and contracts that focus on applied research—or research that advances the ability of clinicians in the field to combat HAIs. This kind of research brings knowledge to the front lines of care faster by helping clinicians and staff better understand how to apply proven methods of making care safer. AHRQ funds both research and implementation projects that:
- Advance the science of HAI prevention.
- Develop more effective approaches for reducing HAIs.
- Help clinicians apply proven methods to prevent HAIs.
AHRQ conducts its HAI program in accordance with the framework established by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections: Road Map to Elimination and the research agenda of the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Action Plan. Learn more about the HHS role in developing the Action Plan.
These publicly-available tools and resources are based on AHRQ's research.
Tools & Resources to Prevent HAIs
The Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) combines techniques to improve safety culture, teamwork, and communications, together with a checklist of proven practices. The Core CUSP Toolkit was developed based on the experiences of more than 1000 ICUs that reduced central line-associated blood stream infections by 41 percent. Vist the CUSP Method for more information.
- Core CUSP ToolkitThe Core CUSP Toolkit helps clinical teams develop a basic understanding of how to apply the CUSP method to make health care safer. Topic-specific toolkits provide additional resources that can help clinician teams address targeted safety issues within the CUSP framework.
- Toolkit for Reducing CLABSI in HospitalsThese tools were specifically developed to apply the CUSP method to prevent CLABSIs.
- Toolkit for Reducing CAUTI in HospitalsThis toolkit helps hospital units teach team members how to adopt and sustain best practices to improve safety culture and reduce CAUTI.
- Toolkit To Improve Safety For Mechanically Ventilated PatientsThis toolkit helps hospitals make care safer for mechanically ventilated patients in intensive care units.
- Toolkit To Promote Safe SurgeryThis toolkit helps surgical units improve safety culture and reduce surgical site infections and other complications.
- Toolkit To Improve Safety in Ambulatory Surgery CentersThis toolkit helps ambulatory surgery centers reduce surgical site infections and other complications.
- Toolkit To Reduce CAUTI and Other HAIs in Long-Term Care FacilitiesThis toolkit helps nursing homes and long-term-care facilities reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) and other HAIs.
- AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Surgical Care and RecoveryThis ongoing implementation project aims to help hospitals and clinicians use the CUSP method to enhance the surgical process and improve patients' recovery after surgery.
- AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Antibiotic UseThis is an ongoing project to improve the use of antibiotics in a variety of health care settings by applying the CUSP method.
- AHRQ Safety Program for Intensive Care Units: Preventing CLABSI and CAUTIThis is an ongoing project is to reduce the rate of central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) with elevated rates of these infections.
This toolkit is a resource to help clinicians and clinical informaticians in primary care and other ambulatory settings implement and adopt the community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) clinical decision support (CDS) alert for the management of community-acquired pneumonia.
This protocol provides instructions for implementing universal decolonization in adult ICUs, as was done in the REDUCE MRSA Trial (New England Journal of Medicine, May 29, 2013).
This toolkit helps hospitals address breaks of Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a family of bacteria that have high levels of resistance to antibiotics. It includes resources on KPC (Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase), a potentially lethal type of CRE.
This practical toolkit helps hospitals implement an antimicrobial stewardship program that specifically targets C. difficile. It answers common questions such as “Is my organization ready?” and “How do I select the right intervention?”
This field-tested toolkit helps dialysis centers apply proven methods to reduce HAIs in this vulnerable patient population.
This guide includes several toolkits and step-by-step guidance to help nursing homes implement an antibiotic stewardship program, determine if it’s necessary to treat a resident with antibiotics, help clinicians select the right antibiotic, and engage residents and families in infection prevention.
This checklist provides sequential critical steps that have shown to reduce central line-associated infections.
Find out how a national implementation project involving more than 1,000 hospital units used CUSP to reduce CLABSIs by 41 percent. Read the Companion Guide to the Final Report.
Find out how one hundred neonatal intensive care units used CUSP to reduce CLABSIs by 58 percent.
This analysis of case studies describes specific practices and "success factors" for reducing and eliminating CLABSIs in health care facilities.
A June 2013 New England Journal of Medicine article reports the results of the REDUCE MRSA trial. This three-arm, cluster-randomized trial compared three strategies for preventing ICU infections and found universal decolonization to be the most effective.
Universal Glove and Gown Use and Acquisition of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in the ICU: A Randomized Trial
An October 2013 Journal of the American Medical Association article reports the result of a cluster-randomized trial in 20 medical and surgical ICUs in 20 hospitals that found universal glove and gown use reduced the acquisition of MRSA but not vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus.
This systematic review examines the comparative effectiveness of diagnostic tests, treatments, and prevention strategies for C. difficile infections in adults.
Page last reviewed March 2018