COVID-19 Impact on HAIs

COVID-19 Impact on HAIs in 2021

  • A CDC analysis published in the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology journal reveals continued increases in healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals during 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) show significantly higher incidence in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), ventilator-associated events (VAEs), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia in 2021 compared to 2019.
    • These increases coincided with periods of high COVID-19 hospitalizations and were especially elevated during the first and third quarters of 2021.
    • Data also revealed strong declines in Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), likely due to pandemic-related improvements in hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE) practices, and environmental cleaning in the healthcare settings.
    • Ventilator-associated events (VAEs) had the largest increases across all infection types. First quarter standardized infection ratios (SIRs) were 51% higher than the same period in 2019, and 60% higher in the third quarter when the Delta variant drove COVID-19-related hospitalizations to all-time highs.
  • Continued changes to hospital practices, longer patient length of stay, additional co-morbidities and higher patient acuity levels, and a longer, more frequent use of devices in 2021 likely contributed to an overall increased potential for device-associated (DA) infections during the pandemic.
  • The 2021 analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare-associated infections followed the same methodology as the published 2020 data summarized at the bottom of this page.

Interpretation: The HAI types shown on this graph are those that have been found to be most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as demonstrated by CDC data. SIRs for other types of infections are available in Tables 1-3 of the manuscript, and in the 2020 report below. This graph displays the quarterly SIR point estimates from 2019-Q1 – 2021-Q3 and does not constitute a statistical trend analysis.

COVID-19 Impact on HAIs in 2020

Nationally, significant increases in 2020 were observed for CLABSI, CAUTI, VAE, and MRSA bacteremia compared to 2019. The largest increases occurred during quarter 4 (October, November, December) of 2020: