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Published Monday, April 9, 2018

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) represent a serious threat to patient safety in all types of clinical settings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 722,000 HAIs occur annually in acute care hospitals alone, resulting in approximately 75,000 deaths.1 The annual rate exceeds 1 million HAIs when factoring in other settings across the U.S. healthcare system.2 Stemming the tide of HAIs requires in-service education of front-line staff on sources of infection, common pathogens and their prevention through universal infection control precautions.

Sources of HAIs
HAIs develop when bacteria, viruses, fungi or other pathogens invade the blood and/or tissues of patients while they are receiving treatment for other medical conditions. HAIs are commonly associated with:
 

  • Surgical procedures
     
  • Prolonged and/or inappropriate use of medical devices
     
  • Heavy antibiotic dosing
     
  • Unsafe injection practices
     
  • Immunocompromised and/or other chronic underlying conditions
     
  • Contact with infected carriers
     
  • Substandard environmental hygiene and/or waste disposal
     
  • Insufficient infection control precautions
     

Common types of HAIs
HAIs that are especially frequent in clinical settings include:
 

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections due to incorrect placement, maintenance or use of indwelling catheters.
     
  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections due to incorrect placement and/or maintenance of intravascular catheters.
     
  • Clostridium difficile (C. Diff) infections due to antibiotic overuse and the destruction of healthy intestinal bacteria.
     
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia due to patient/resident contact with contaminated surfaces, medical devices or infected healthcare personnel, resulting in pathogens entering the bloodstream.
     
  • Surgical site infections due to contaminated medical implants and/or poor sterilization techniques during surgery.
     
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia due to cross-contamination via an endotracheal tube.
     

Precautions against the spread of HAIs
The goal of universal precautions training is to minimize the risk of clinical cross-contamination of dangerous, hard-to-treat pathogens. Annual training sessions should reinforce these universal biosafety practices by highlighting:
 

  • Hand hygiene before and after contact with patients/residents, bodily fluids and soiled materials; after removing gloves and using the restroom; and whenever hands are visibly soiled. (Hand hygiene guidance also should be offered to patients/residents and family members via signage and live demonstrations of washing techniques.)
     
  • Protective equipment (i.e., gloves, gowns, masks, eyewear) whenever there is a reasonable chance of contact with blood, bodily fluids, secretions or excretions, or with any items contaminated by these fluids.
     
  • Respiratory etiquette, e.g., properly covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and requiring individuals with a communicable disease to wear a surgical mask.
     
  • Safe injection practices when handling needles and sharps to prevent transmission of bloodborne pathogens and other occupational needle-stick injuries.
     
  • Proper disposal of medical waste to ensure that infectious materials are appropriately separated, labeled, stored and transported.
     

  
Training aids for HAIs
In addition to universal precautions training, in-service education should focus on the prevention and management of common HAIs. For training purposes, these targeted CDC resources are available:
 

Documentation should be maintained for all infection control training or certification sessions, including dates, names of attendees and proficiency testing results, and copies of certificates earned should be kept on file. By ensuring that staff members are trained in the infection surveillance practices outlined here, healthcare organizations can make significant strides in reducing the rate of HAIs.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HAI Data and Statistics.
2 Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, Health Care-Associated Infections.

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When it comes time to revisit your small healthcare business coverage needs, you want to work with a provider who understands your unique insurance needs.

With more than 50 years of experience, CNA is a trusted leader and top underwriter of insurance solutions and services for a wide spectrum of healthcare companies, providers and organizations. We operate across the continuum of care, with expertise that extends from the traditional hospital/physician model to new and emerging healthcare delivery systems.

When it comes time to revisit your malpractice or Cyber Liability coverage needs, you want to work with a provider that understands your unique small business insurance needs. CNA recognizes the challenges facing our more than 1 million healthcare customers. We operate at the forefront of change, leveraging our industry-recognized expertise to build the tailored coverages and services that permit you to focus on what's important to you — your patients.

Claim and Risk Control services are an integral part of the coverage we offer. Our Risk Control team has significant clinical experience and can provide tools and resources to help you mitigate losses before they occur. Our acclaimed series of claim reports help allied healthcare facilities, aging services facilities, hospitals, healthcare and life science providers understand and respond to their malpractice exposures. And our Healthcare Claim team deploys its talent and experience in working with internal colleagues dedicated to claims of high severity and complexity, as well as nationally recognized external attorneys experienced in high severity claims, including birth trauma, neurological injury, other catastrophic injury and certain aging services matters.

CNA is the founding member of the National Patient Safety Foundation, and we've been named Best Medical Malpractice Provider by National Underwriter's PropertyCasualty 360 and Best U.S. Specialty Lines Insurer by Intelligent Insurer magazine. We take pride in being recognized within the healthcare industry for the products and services we provide, in turn helping healthcare organizations to continue to provide our communities with quality care.

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For your small business, having the right kind of insurance is critical to success. Are you looking to learn more about the kinds of insurance coverage you need before you contact your local independent agent or broker? We've developed some helpful resources and tools to get you started.

What kind of insurance do I need?
Identifying the right coverages that address your risk exposures and your greatest challenges is important. To help determine your business insurance needs, use this checklist to help guide your discussion with your independent insurance agent.

Why use an independent agent?
Dedicated to offering the broadest selection of policies and coverage to best meet their customers' needs, independent agents represent multiple product lines from more than one carrier. CNA is proud to support the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America and their Young Agents Committee. Find a local independent agent for you.

 

What is risk control?
For small businesses, preventing and controlling risk can be just as important as being properly covered. CNA Risk Control offers a wide range of services focusing on management accountability, cost drivers and business solutions to help you improve your bottom-line profit.

How can I prepare for an emergency?
Learn how to safeguard your small business, your employees and your family in the event of an emergency by visiting Resources to Manage & Reduce Risk for online tools and resources from CNA's own business continuity planners and government organizations.

How can I better prepare for my policy renewal?
Your independent insurance agent is your best resource to ensure your small business has the proper insurance coverage as it changes and grows year over year. Review this list of 10 items to prepare for your conversation about how your business and its insurance needs have changed since your policy was issued.

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