Reducing health care-associated infections (HAIs): Lessons learned from a national collaborative of regional HAI programs

Catherine Amber Welsh, Mindy E. Flanagan, Shawn C. Hoke, Bradley N. Doebbeling, Loreen Herwaldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Health care-associated infections (HAIs) are a leading cause of death in United States health care settings, with an overall estimated annual incidence of 1.7 million. As antimicrobial resistance has increased, so too have efforts to reduce HAI rates. The objective of this study was to identify commonly cited lessons learned across a wide variety of HAI projects and hospital settings. Methods: Thirty-three hospitals participated in 5 different regional collaboratives supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Data on hospitals' successes, challenges, and lessons learned were collected via key informant interviews and structured, standardized case report forms. Results: Seven commonly cited themes were identified: foster change by first understanding resistance; commit to regular strategic communication and join a collaborative; start small and tailor implementation to local needs and cultures; engage frontline staff by involving them in the project and enlisting champions; educate and reeducate; convince administration to provide leadership, funds, and dedicated staff and assign accountability; and provide timely, relevant feedback and celebrate successes. Conclusion: Despite the diversity of hospital settings, cultures, personnel, and HAI reduction projects, we found that hospitals encounter similar challenges and facilitators across projects. We offer a model of 7 process elements shown to be important to successful implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Health care-associated infection
  • Patient safety
  • Quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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