New tracking tools, guidance help nursing homes treat and prevent facility-acquired infections

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Government health officials have released a tracking tool that can help nursing homes monitor healthcare-acquired infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Healthcare Safety Network's new tracking component allows long-term care facilities to log onto a website where they can report cases of infections such as Clostridium difficile, urinary tract infections, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and others. The CDC's tool was unveiled Friday.

By reporting infections, nursing homes can better identify problems, implement prevention measures, and monitor progress toward stopping infections, according to the CDC. State and local health officials also can use the tracking tool to monitor regional prevention efforts and take action.

"Clinicians in nursing homes cannot prevent healthcare-associated infections unless they know where and how they are occurring. Tracking infections within facilities is the first step toward prevention and ultimately saves lives," Nimalie Stone, M.D., lead author of the CDC's guidance, said.

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America also updated infection definitions and guidance this week, providing criteria for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to track and monitor HAIs. The new guidelines will be published in the October issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Long-term care facilities can click here to enroll with the CDC for tracking purposes.

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