Colony of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria causing skin infection. Antibiotic resistant infectious diseases. 3d illustration

With the virus being such a threat to take up most of the available beds and resources in hospitals, stopping the spread of COVID-19 has been a point of emphasis for healthcare providers. But that doesn’t mean that a more traditional threat (hospital acquired infections) should be ignored, reports Infection Control Today.

In March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would relieve clinicians and providers of having to report hospital acquired infections (HAIS) between Jan. 1 and June 30. CMS rationalized this decision by saying clinicians needed support fighting COVID-19 and that the postponement on reporting HAIs would allow clinical frontline workers to focus on caring for COVID-19 patients.

Clinicians with the Hospital Infection Prevention Program at Virginia Commonwealth University tell Infection Control Today that the lack of regular monitoring of HAIs and efforts to prevent them is concerning. The clinicians ran a Twitter poll in April in which they asked infection prevention and hospital epidemiology experts how much time they were spending on COVID-19. Nearly 80 percent of the 220 respondents say they were spending more than 75 percent of their time preventing or treating the virus.

The clinicians at VCU say that the attention taken away from HAIs could cause harm to HAI mitigation efforts and the tracking of HAIs. With 1 in 31 hospital patients suffering from at least one HAI, that’s potentially a lot of blown coverage.

The increased attention paid to COVID-19 does benefit HAI prevention in at least one way. More environmental cleaning is taking place at hospitals and healthcare facilities right now, which decreases the amount of organisms that spread on contact, like C difficile. At least two hospitals have seen their C difficile rates drop to 45 and 51 percent, according to one of Infection Control Today’s sources.