Impact of COVID-19 on healthcare associated infections

A new American study concludes that healthcare associated infections (HAI) increased in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic. Infections related to the urinary tract, respiratory tract and blood stream all raised, for instance, central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) increased with 46-47%.

The intention of the study was to determine the national impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on healthcare associated infection (HAI) incidence hospitals, on national- and state-level.

The study analysed central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), ventilator-associated events (VAEs), select surgical site infections, and Clostridioides difficile and MRSA bacteraemia laboratory-identified events, reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) for 2019 and 2020 by acute-care hospitals.


Significant increases in the national standardized infection ratios (SIRs) for CLABSI, CAUTI, VAE, and MRSA bacteraemia were observed in 2020. The largest increase was observed for CLABSI (46-47 %), and significant increases in VAE incidence and ventilator utilization were seen across all 4 quarters of 2020.

Due to the reporting requirements to NHSN the data provides a national picture of how patient safety, in particular HAI incidence, may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the authors, the study result highlights the need to return to conventional infection prevention and control practices and build resiliency in these programs to withstand future pandemics.

Link to the study

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1. Lindsay et al. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology (2021), 1–14 doi:10.1017/ice.2021.362
2. Kai-Larsen, Y., Grass, S., Mody, B. et al. Foley catheter with noble metal alloy coating for preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections: a large, multi-center clinical trial. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control 10, 40 (2021). Publisher: Springer Nature.