Healthcare Associated Infection Watch News from Kimberly-Clark

This website was created by Kimberly-Clark Corporation, with cooperation from other individuals, companies, and organizations that are also dedicated to the fight against preventable HAIs. The content below is from the site's 2012 archived pages.

Healthcare Associated Infection Education

The Kimberly-Clark Knowledge Network offers a variety of free educational resources on the subject of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Most of them provide Continuing Education (CE) credits. Healthcare personnel can access these infection control courses and training resources in a variety of ways:

  • Facilitated, CE Accredited Programs for on-site presentation 
      A Kimberly-Clark representative can facilitate over 20 different programs at your convenience in your location.
  • Accredited Online courses @ Pfiedler with a grant from Kimberly-Clark Knowledge Network  
  • Accredited Online webinars @ Infection Control Today  
  • Accredited Education for the Ambulatory Surgical Environment @ Excellentia  
  • Accredited Education for the Dental Environment @ Viva Learning  
  • Non-accredited Educational Materials 
      A variety of information on heathcare associated infection and other critical healthcare issues, including Knowledge Network's* Clinical Issues.


HAI Education Bus


Kimberly-Clark's Not on My Watch HAI Bus for Healthcare-associated infections education

At Kimberly-Clark, it’s our mission to find innovative ways to develop and maintain a variety of accredited education, equipping healthcare providers with critical insights and information on today’s important clinical issues. That’s why we’re proud to introduce the HAI Education Bus, an impressive new one-of-a-kind mobile classroom that brings accredited CE education right to your door.

Look for this tour bus as it makes its way across the country, delivering education about Healthcare-Associated Infections and other critical healthcare issues from the plains of Texas to the California coast to New York City and places in between.


Healthcare-Associated Infections

When someone develops an infection at a hospital or other patient care facility that they did not have prior to treatment, this is referred to as a Healthcare-Associated (sometimes hospital-acquired) Infection (HAI).


Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) are a global crisis affecting both patients and healthcare workers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at any point in time, 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from infections acquired in hospitals.

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report published in March-April 2007 estimated the number of U.S. deaths from healthcare associated infections in 2002 at 98,987.

The risk of acquiring Healthcare-Associated Infections in developing countries is 2-20 times higher than in developed countries.


Afflicting thousands of patients every year, HAI often leads to lengthened hospital stays, increasing the likelihood of readmission, and adding sizably to the cost of care per patient.

Those associated with medical care (HAI) infections are a global crisis affecting both patients and health care personnel. Financially, HAIs represent an estimated annual impact of $ 6.7 billion for health centers, but the human cost is even greater. A report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published in March-April 2007 estimated the number of deaths in the United States for infections associated with health care in 2002 was 98.987. If however, it is likely that the number is even greater because, as mentioned by the author of the report, "There is no single source of nationally representative data on IAAM level currently available. 1

According to the World Health Organization, "At one time, an estimated 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from an infection acquired in a health center. The risk of acquiring infections associated with health care in the countries development is 2-20 times higher than in developed countries. 2

Until recently, a lack of HAI reporting requirements for health facilities helped put enough emphasis is not on eliminating sources of infections associated with health care. However, the growing public anxiety regarding the issue and resulting legislation at the local and state level that requires responsibility is accelerating efforts to combat HAIs.

Infectious diseases in healthcare settings:

The CDC reports that the following are infectious diseases that can be transmitted and / or acquired in healthcare settings and therefore are possible infections associated with medical care (IAAM). 3


Bloodborne pathogens

Burkholderia cepacia

Clostridium difficile

Clostridium sordellii

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)

gastrointestinal infections

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B



MRSA - methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus






S. pneumoniae (drug-resistant)


veers hemorrhagic fever (Ebola)

VISA - Staphylococcus Aureus intermediate to vancomycin

Last modified date: May 22, 2006

1. Reports / public health March and April 2007 / Volume 122, p.160

2. World Alliance for Patient Safety, Global Patient Safety Challenge 2005-2006: Clean Care is Safer Care. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2005


There are three broad categories representing a significant percentage of HAIs. Click on the links below to learn more about each: 

Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP)  
The ventilator associated pneumonia is the source of morbidity and higher than those associated with healthcare infections mortality. 
Read more about ventilator associated pneumonia

Surgical site infections (SSIs)  
Any crack in the patient's skin can cause an infection in the operating room. 
Read more about infection in the operating room

cross contamination (contact transmission)  
Cross - contamination is the main source of health care -associated infections. 
Read more about contact transmission



About HAI Watch

HAI Watch is your resource for collateral and supplies to help keep your organization aware of the importance of healthcare associated infection prevention. The following guidelines on hand hygiene in healthcare settings and other tips are available now, but keep checking back. New HAI awareness tools will be added on an ongoing basis.

About Kimberly-Clark Health Care

At Kimberly-Clark Health Care, we deliver innovative healthcare solutions that you can depend on to meet the demands of your fast-paced world, supported by in-service training, clinical research and accredited education.

Our solutions help you prevent, diagnose, and manage major issues in these clinical areas: Infection Prevention (Protection & Infection Control, Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia and Surgical Site Infections), Digestive Health and Pain Management.

About Kimberly-Clark Corporation


Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 150 countries.

Every day, 1.3 billion people - nearly a quarter of the world's population - trust K-C brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being.

With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds No. 1 or No. 2 share positions in more than 80 countries.



More Background On Healthcare Associated Infections

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) represent a significant challenge to patient safety in healthcare settings, leading to substantial morbidity, mortality, and financial costs. HAIs are infections patients acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions within a healthcare setting. They are the most common complications of hospital care and among the top ten causes of death in the United States. It is estimated that HAIs account for 1.7 million infections annually, leading to around 99,000 deaths and resulting in an additional $28 to $33 billion in healthcare costs each year​​.

Prevention and Control Efforts:

  1. Sterile Techniques and Best Practices: Utilizing sterile barrier techniques, including full-body drapes, caps, masks, sterile gowns, and gloves, is crucial. Skin preparation with chlorhexidine solution and minimizing the use of invasive devices like ventilators and central lines unless absolutely necessary are key preventive measures.

  2. Environmental Cleaning: Effective cleaning protocols in healthcare settings are vital. This includes proper cleaning of high-touch surfaces and management of linens and laundry to minimize the risk of environmental contamination​​.

  3. Antibiotic Stewardship: Optimizing the use of antibiotics by adhering to protocols for prophylactic use and applying targeted antibiotic therapies when necessary is critical to reduce the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are a significant concern in HAIs​.

  4. Surveillance and Data Analysis: Tracking HAI cases through the National Healthcare Safety Network provides crucial data that helps in understanding the trends, effectiveness of preventive measures, and areas needing improvement. The use of standardized infection ratios and other data analytics tools aids healthcare facilities in monitoring their progress in controlling HAIs​.

  5. Public Health and Policy Initiatives: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections, which serves as a roadmap for reducing HAIs across various healthcare settings. This plan emphasizes the integration of antibiotic stewardship programs and highlights the need for improving influenza vaccination rates among healthcare personnel as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent HAIs​.

Educational and Research Contributions:

Organizations like the CDC and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provide extensive resources, toolkits, and guidelines to help healthcare providers implement effective infection prevention and control practices. For instance, the AHRQ supports research that develops new insights into HAI prevention and offers a range of tools, including the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), which has been instrumental in reducing bloodstream infections in intensive care units.

Addressing HAIs requires a concerted effort from healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the community to adhere to proven prevention techniques, maintain rigorous hygiene practices, and ensure the judicious use of antibiotics. By enhancing educational efforts, investing in research, and implementing strict regulatory measures, significant progress can be made in the battle against these infections.


Press & Media Coverage

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) have garnered significant attention in the media due to their impact on patient safety and healthcare costs. Recent press coverage has highlighted various aspects of HAIs, from their rising incidence during the COVID-19 pandemic to innovative prevention strategies.

  1. Impact of COVID-19 on HAIs: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenge of controlling HAIs. A CDC analysis indicated a significant increase in HAIs during the pandemic, particularly central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), which saw a rise due to disruptions in usual healthcare practices and increased hospital strain​​.

  2. Innovative Prevention Strategies: Media reports have also focused on innovative approaches to reducing HAIs. For instance, a study conducted in Italian hospitals explored the use of a probiotic-based sanitation system, which showed a notable reduction in surface pathogens and HAIs. This approach not only proved effective but also environmentally sustainable, offering a novel method to tackle HAIs without contributing to antimicrobial resistance.

  3. Press Coverage of Successful Intervention Programs: The Defense Media Network detailed the success of the Veterans Affairs (VA) MRSA Initiative, which significantly reduced MRSA infections in VA healthcare facilities. This program emphasized screening, isolation, and hygiene practices, and has served as a model for other institutions aiming to reduce HAIs.

  4. Broader Media Discussions on HAIs: Broader discussions in the media highlight the ongoing challenges and developments in HAI prevention. Reports discuss the financial and human costs of HAIs and the importance of continuous improvement in infection prevention practices across healthcare settings. The focus often includes the role of staffing levels, with evidence suggesting that better-staffed facilities can more effectively implement infection control measures.

These media reports underscore the critical nature of HAIs as a public health issue and the ongoing efforts to address them through both traditional and innovative means. The attention also highlights the need for robust infection control practices and the potential impact of systemic factors such as staffing and emergency responses on the ability to control infections in healthcare settings.



The history of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is marked by a growing awareness and evolving approaches to prevention and control. HAIs became a focal concern in the 1950s with outbreaks of penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, especially in hospital nurseries. This period highlighted the necessity of developing techniques to prevent hospital-acquired infections. The subsequent decades saw significant advancements in infection control within healthcare settings.

By the 1960s, some hospitals began establishing their own infection control programs, with active surveillance becoming more common. However, it wasn't until 1970 that a national reporting system began to take shape in the United States. The pivotal moment came in the mid-1970s when it became evident that not all hospitals were adopting infection control programs despite increasing awareness of HAIs as a major medical threat. This led the CDC to initiate the Study on the Effectiveness of Nosocomial Infection Control (SENIC), which provided the needed evidence to show that infection control programs effectively reduce the incidence of HAIs. As a result, by 1976, accrediting organizations like The Joint Commission mandated that accredited hospitals have infection control programs, transforming infection control from a movement to a mandated practice​.

Since then, the field has continued to evolve with advancements in surveillance technology and methodologies. The traditional manual surveillance methods have largely given way to electronic surveillance, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of HAI tracking. These changes have been facilitated by the introduction of the electronic health record (EHR) systems, supported by federal initiatives like the HITECH Act, which have helped streamline the collection and reporting of quality and safety data, including information about HAIs​.

Moreover, the ongoing research and development in this field, often supported by organizations like the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), have continually advanced the science of HAI prevention. This includes developing more effective strategies and tools to reduce HAIs and disseminating knowledge about best practices through programs like the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program.

This historical context underscores the dynamic and responsive nature of infection prevention within healthcare, reflecting a long-term commitment to improving patient safety through both policy and practice advancements.


Cultural & Social Significance

The cultural and social significance of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is profound, impacting numerous aspects of society and healthcare systems worldwide.

  1. Public Health Impact: HAIs represent a critical public health challenge. They highlight the intersections between microbial evolution, antibiotic resistance, and healthcare delivery. The cultural emphasis on cleanliness and sterilization in medical settings stems from the historical impact of these infections, shaping policies and practices designed to prevent infection spread.

  2. Economic Burden: Economically, HAIs impose significant costs on healthcare systems due to extended hospital stays, additional treatments, and increased use of resources. This financial strain affects public health funding and insurance systems, often leading to broader societal debates about healthcare funding, resource allocation, and the economic sustainability of health systems.

  3. Trust in Healthcare Systems: The prevalence of HAIs can influence public perceptions of healthcare institutions. High rates of HAIs may lead to decreased trust in healthcare providers and facilities, impacting patient engagement and willingness to seek care. This is particularly significant in cultures with existing mistrust of medical institutions, potentially exacerbating health disparities and access issues​.

  4. Healthcare Worker Safety and Morale: HAIs also have a significant impact on healthcare workers, not just patients. The risk of acquiring infections from the workplace can affect healthcare professionals' morale, their own health, and their job satisfaction. Efforts to control HAIs are thus closely linked to worker safety protocols and have spurred advocacy for better protective measures and working conditions​.

  5. Regulatory and Ethical Considerations: The fight against HAIs involves complex ethical and regulatory dimensions. Decisions about resource allocation for prevention, the transparency of reporting infection rates, and the balancing of patient safety with treatment efficacy reflect broader ethical considerations. These issues are often discussed in public forums and shape healthcare policies at national and international levels​.

  6. Global Health Inequality: The disparity in HAI rates between developed and developing countries highlights issues of global health inequality. High-income countries often have more resources to implement effective infection control measures compared to low-income countries where HAIs are more prevalent. This disparity raises important questions about global health equity and the responsibilities of wealthier nations and international organizations in supporting infection control worldwide​​.

Each of these aspects underscores the extensive cultural and social dimensions of HAIs, illustrating how these medical issues resonate far beyond the walls of hospitals and affect various facets of society.



The goals related to the management and prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are multifaceted and aim at improving patient safety, reducing healthcare costs, and enhancing the overall quality of care in healthcare settings. These goals can be summarized as follows:

  1. Reduction of Infection Rates: The primary goal is to significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the incidence of HAIs in healthcare facilities. This includes targeting specific infections like central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), surgical site infections (SSIs), and others that are commonly tracked and reported.

  2. Improvement of Patient Outcomes: By reducing the occurrence of HAIs, healthcare providers aim to improve patient outcomes. This involves not only preventing infections but also ensuring quicker recovery times, reducing complications, and decreasing the length of hospital stays.

  3. Enhancement of Healthcare Worker Safety: Protecting healthcare workers from acquiring infections in the workplace is another critical goal. This involves ensuring proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), promoting hand hygiene, and implementing other infection control practices.

  4. Promotion of Antibiotic Stewardship: Rationalizing the use of antibiotics to prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a key component of HAI prevention strategies. This involves educating healthcare providers on the appropriate use of antibiotics and monitoring antibiotic resistance patterns.

  5. Economic Efficiency: HAIs add significant costs to healthcare systems due to extended hospital stays, additional treatments, and increased use of medical resources. Reducing HAIs can lead to considerable cost savings for healthcare facilities and the broader health system.

  6. Educational Initiatives: Training and educating healthcare personnel on the latest infection prevention and control practices is essential. This not only involves formal education but also ongoing training and updates on best practices as new research and technologies emerge.

  7. Regulatory Compliance and Reporting: Meeting regulatory requirements and improving the accuracy and transparency of HAI reporting are important for monitoring progress and accountability. This includes compliance with standards set by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

  8. Public Health Improvement: At a broader level, reducing HAIs contributes to public health goals by controlling the spread of infections within communities, especially in settings like hospitals that have high risks of transmission.

Each of these goals contributes to a safer, more effective healthcare environment and underscores the importance of continuous improvement and adherence to evidence-based practices in infection control.