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What is DC Health Doing to Prevent HAIs?

The Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) program is dedicated to detecting and preventing the spread of HAIs and multidrug-resistant organisms. Both surveillance and prevention activities are necessary to reduce the number of patients with HAIs. The HAI program monitors HAI infection rates and uses data to drive action to prevent infections, provides support and technical assistance to healthcare facilities during outbreaks and collaborates with partners to develop and implement prevention activities to drive quality improvement.


Surveillance is a fundamental role of public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines epidemiologic surveillance as the ongoing systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health data essential to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of public health practice closely integrated with the timely dissemination of these data to the appropriate individuals. Surveillance can be used to identify and monitor the health status of a population in order to set priorities and inform policy and strategies, assess the impact of an intervention, and track progress toward goals.

DC Health conducts routine surveillance for a wide range of infectious diseases and related health outcomes. Healthcare facilities in DC are required to report certain HAIs to the DC Health’s HAI program using the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). NHSN is a secure, internet-based surveillance system designed and maintained by the CDC, and serves as the nation’s most widely used HAI tracking system. HAI data are required by law to be reported to DC Health and national agencies. The data are used to track infection rates over time and assess differences among facilities, detect and investigate clusters or outbreaks, identify emerging infectious diseases and antibiotic-resistant organisms and prevent their spread, assess the effectiveness of prevention and control measures, and target performance improvement activities and measure their effectiveness.

Special Projects

In addition to routine HAI surveillance (NHSN), the DC DOH HAI Program conducts specials studies to better understand why HAIs occur in DC.

The Healthcare Antibiotic Resistance Prevalence—DC (HARP-DC) Study

Enterobacteriaceae are a family of bacteria that are normally found in the digestive tract of a healthy person. However, these bacteria can cause infection if they spread to other parts of the body such as the bladder or blood. This may happen when a person is receiving medical treatment in a healthcare setting.

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are Enterobacteriaceae that have become resistant to carbapenems, a group of antibiotics that are usually used to treat serious infections. CRE infections are very difficult to treat because their resistance makes antibiotics ineffective in killing them. In some cases, CRE infections are untreatable and can kill up to half of patients with infections in their blood.

CRE are spreading and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled CRE an urgent public health threat. In order to control the spread of infection, there must be rapid, consistent and collaborative action by the federal government, states, public health departments, health care providers and patients.

The number of CRE infections occurring in DC before 2016 is unknown since DC DOH did not require healthcare facilities to report CRE data. DC Health, the DC Department of Forensic Science-Public Health Lab, and the DC Hospital Association collaborated with 16 healthcare facilities in the District to conduct a study to determine the number of cases of patients with CRE in DC healthcare facilities.  

Press Releases and News Reports


DC HAI Advisory Committee

The District of Columbia (DC) Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Advisory Committee is comprised of stakeholders with a variety of expertise and experience in HAI prevention and control. The Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the DC government on the prevention, surveillance and public reporting of healthcare-associated infections. Members include representatives from DC DOH, hospitals, long-term care centers, primary care practices, dialysis centers, academic partners and coalitions, and other governmental and non-governmental partners.

Vision: To help all types of healthcare facilities to provide the best possible quality of care in the District by ultimately eliminating HAIs.

Mission: To identify HAI prevention activities, recommend evidence based practices and sustainable interventions, establish targets, and monitor and communicate progress to stakeholders and the public.

The first meeting took place on September 21, 2016. Additional information, including materials from past Committee meetings can be found here. For more information about the DC HAI Advisory Committee, please contact the DC Health HAI Program at [email protected].