Patient safety advocates share ideas with CDC experts on fighting healthcare-acquired infections

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Consumers Union’s network of patient safety advocates and Safe Patient Project staff met in Atlanta this month for an energizing meeting at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to discuss one of the most important issues facing public health: healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs). The meeting was a chance for everyone to talk about their work on infections, and for us to hear directly from CDC experts about current and emerging threats to patient safety, such as MRSA, C.diff, and other serious infections that harm and kill patients. Many of the patient safety advocates have been on the front lines of hospital infection work in the states and nationally; many have been harmed personally or lost loved ones from these infections, and have been crucial voices for public reporting of infections and more public awareness. This was a terrific opportunity to be heard!

We even received a visit from the CDC director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, who came by for a 30 minute chat with the group — see his tweet about it.

Ty Moss, who formed Nile’s Project with his wife Carole Moss (pictured right), said: “As a first time participant and guest, we are so encouraged from the commitment and energy displayed by the CDC and Consumers Union on Tuesday! Carole and I left the meeting excited knowing we have growing support to share vital information about HAIs, promote safety practices, and prepare our citizens to become participants in better healthcare for their families. Truly a valuable day for us and we appreciate being a part of the effort to reach out and share what we have learned.”

Kathy Day, patient safety advocate from Maine, said: “Our meeting at the CDC, with none other than CDC director Thomas Frieden and other leading HAI preventionists, was an incredible experience. I came away encouraged and excited. I do sense that things are changing and improving for all of us. My only concern is that it isn’t happening fast enough, certainly not fast enough for my classmate and friend, who died of Healthcare associated MRSA.”

The CDC meeting was a terrific exchange for patient safety advocates and CDC health experts to share knowledge, raise questions and discuss points for collaboration. We are encouraged by the great work and support from CDC, but there is still much more work that needs to be done to eliminate healthcare-acquired infections. In addition to the MRSA and C.diff infections that harm too many patients, we have newer threats to patient safety such as Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and other gram-negative infections. We have a huge amount of work on our plates!

We look forward to continuing the conversation with CDC and being a strong voice for patient safety.