The efficacy of infection surveillance and control programs in preventing nosocomial infections in US hospitals

Am J Epidemiol. 1985 Feb;121(2):182-205. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a113990.


In a representative sample of US general hospitals, the authors found that the establishment of intensive infection surveillance and control programs was strongly associated with reductions in rates of nosocomial urinary tract infection, surgical wound infection, pneumonia, and bacteremia between 1970 and 1975-1976, after controlling for other characteristics of the hospitals and their patients. Essential components of effective programs included conducting organized surveillance and control activities and having a trained, effectual infection control physician, an infection control nurse per 250 beds, and a system for reporting infection rates to practicing surgeons. Programs with these components reduced their hospitals' infection rates by 32%. Since relatively few hospitals had very effective programs, however, only 6% of the nation's approximately 2 million nosocomial infections were being prevented in the mid-1970s, leaving another 26% to be prevented by universal adoption of these programs. Among hospitals without effective programs, the overall infection rate increased by 18% from 1970 to 1976.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods*
  • Cost Control
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross Infection / economics
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Hospitals, General
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Models, Biological
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital
  • Pneumonia / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control
  • Risk
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • United States
  • Urinary Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control