Four infections that mainly affect patients in health care facilities, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), declined in 2010, according to an annual review from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"Hospitals continue to make impressive progress in driving down certain infections in intensive care units through implementation of CDC prevention strategies," CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said in a statement.
Health care-associated infections (HAIs) are potentially deadly infections that a patient can develop while receiving medical care at a facility such as a hospital or emergency room, according to the CDC. They can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
The new findings are based on data submitted by hospitals across the U.S. to the National Healthcare Safety Network, which is the CDC's infection monitoring system.
The findings showed a 33 percent reduction in bloodstream infections associated with the use of a central line catheter, or a tube that is placed in a large vein of a patient's neck or chest. Such infections can be prevented through proper catheter insertion and hygiene.
The study also found an 18 percent decrease in the number of people who developed MRSA infections, a type of potentially deadly, drug-resistant bacteria.
There was a 7 percent reduction in urinary tract infections from catheters, as well as a 10 percent reduction in surgical site infections, which occur in the part of the body where the surgery took place.
The CDC credited the drop in HAIs to healthcare providers increasingly adhering to proven infection prevention measures, such as properly inserting central line catheters into patients and keeping the catheters clean.
"These successes reflect investments not only in hospital practices, but in our national and state public health capacity," said Dr. Denise Cardo, director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. "Preventing infections in health care saves lives and reduces healthcare costs."