Author: Kelly Reynolds, MSPH, Ph.D.
Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) account for over 700,000 infections, 75,000 deaths, and over $45 billion in direct medical cost annually in the US.1 Numerous studies have shown that these infections are related to contamination of the healthcare environment including: contaminated surfaces in patient’s rooms, clothing, aerosols and others. Additionally, often HAIs are associated with bacteria resistant to commonly used antibiotics (e.g. MRSA, and Clostridium difficile). Risk analysis provides a framework and approach that uses mathematical models to estimate or predict health impacts from the spread of pathogens through environments. Via specific exposure pathways risk models characterize population impacts (e.g. infection rates) and inform better risk management decisions. Similar modeling tools have been used by USDA, FDA, and USEPA to set regulatory guidelines for water and food borne pathogens. Healthcare is not currently utilizing this powerful computational tool.
Control of HAIs remain a significant problem for hospitals because evaluation of their pathways and intervention outcomes rely on expensive and time consuming epidemiological studies. The goal of this workgroup is to develop a transformational toolbox based on risk analysis to reduce HAIs and improve epidemiological studies.
Advancing this approach requires a synergy of expertise that has been difficult to bring together and rapidly progress with traditional funding mechanisms. Collaborations via the HITS Consortium aid in bringing together an interdisciplinary team of stakeholders from industry, academia, regulatory agencies, healthcare practice, and more, to develop and refine risk assessment frameworks for use in healthcare environments.
Key Benefits of risk assessment for healthcare and industry:
- Improve the understanding of relationships among hospital acquired infection incidence/prevalence, healthcare surfaces, hygiene interventions, and human behaviors
- Enables scenario analyses for rapid decision making
- Evaluation of multiple intervention strategies with a single risk assessment model
- Advancement of infection control protocols through optimization of hygiene interventions
- Rapid assessment of new intervention product efficacy, under multiple scenarios
- Reduce costs, time, and materials needed for product and intervention evaluation
- Validation of models capable with field tracer studies
- Streamlined product evaluation, and an expedited process for evidence based research to increase market awareness and acceptability
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). HAI Data and Statistics. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/surveillance/index.html
Kelly Reynolds, MSPH, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Program Director for Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Arizona
Mark Weir, PhD
Assistant Professor in Environmental Health Sciences at the College of Public Helath at The Ohio State University
The Healthcare Infections Transmission System (HITS) Consortium looks to promote public health by reducing healthcare-associated infections through the integration of best infection prevention practices. HITS will focus on the major pathogen transmission systems in the healthcare setting specifically; surfaces, person to person, water and air. Join us for this one-of-a-kind, multimodal event where researchers and experts from across disciplines will work toward identifying research gaps and applying data-driven methods in the field. Meet, greet and share ideas with the individuals and organizations who are growing and sustaining the industry, as we explore creative and innovative solutions to this global problem.
How is HITS different?
Our conference theme is Catalyst for Change. Fittingly, HITS will take a holistic perspective to targeting healthcare associated infections. The conference looks to focus on “hospital health.” By including multiple disciplines in the conversation, HITS looks to remove silos and encourage a systems approach, aligning with infection prevention.