Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs)

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections patients get while receiving healthcare for other reasons. These infections threaten patient safety and public health. HAIs contribute to longer hospital stays, higher costs, loss of trust in the healthcare system, and sometimes death.

Why is HAI data important?

Healthcare facilities across the state work to reduce healthcare-associated infections. Tracking HAIs helps find problem areas, show prevention progress, and, in the end, reduce infections.

1 out of every 31 hospitalized patients are affected by an HAI.
Prevention techniques can reduce HAIs by up to 70%.
HAIs cost the US between $7.2 billion and $14.9 billion each year.

Device-Associated HAIs

Device-associated HAIs are infections that come from using healthcare devices. Hospitals must report two device-associated HAIs: Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) and Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI). 

Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)

A CAUTI occurs when germs (usually bacteria) enter the urinary tract through a urinary catheter and cause infection. Between 15% to 25% of hospitalized patients have urinary catheters placed during their hospital stay. This means a lot of people could potentially get a CAUTI.

Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)

A CLABSI occurs if bacteria enter the bloodstream through a central line. A central line is a long tube inserted into a large vein in the neck, chest, upper arm, or leg. This helps provide medicine, nutrients, fluid, and access for laboratory testing. It can also monitor pressure in the heart.

Laboratory-Identified HAIs

Laboratory-identified (LabID) HAIs are infections found by laboratories through specimen growth. They may not include clinical evaluation of the patient. If any of the bacteria is found, it is considered a LabID HAI. Reported LabID HAIs must be “healthcare onset” (HO), meaning they happened more than 3 days after hospital admission.

Hospitals report two LabID HAIs: Clostridioides (formerly known as Clostridium) difficile Infection (CDI) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia.

C. difficile Infections

Clostridioides (formerly known as Clostridium) difficile Infection (CDI) is caused by the C. difficile bacteria. This is a germ that causes diarrhea and colon inflammation. Most cases of CDI occur in people who are currently or have recently been taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the normal gut bacteria, which allows C. difficile to grow instead. Hospitals must report laboratory identification (LabID) events of CDI. 

MRSA Bacteremia

Staphylococcus aureus are bacteria commonly found on the skin. These bacteria are generally harmless, but they can cause infections. Most infections are minor and do not need treatment with antibiotics. More severe infections are often treated with antibiotics. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a strain that is resistant to certain antibiotics. One of the more severe forms of MRSA infection is MRSA bacteremia. This is when MRSA is found in a patient’s bloodstream, indicating a systemic infection.

Surgical Site Infections

A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that happens in a part of the body that was recently operated on. SSI reporting focuses on certain types of surgeries because they are performed frequently or may have higher risk of infection. Hospitals must report SSIs following colon surgeries (SSI-COLO) and abdominal hysterectomies (SSI-HYST).

Colon Surgery SSIs (SSI-COLO)

Colon surgeries make a repair on or remove part of the large intestine. SSI-COLO can cause a surface-level infection in the tissue around the incision. They can also cause deeper infections. These can affect muscles, connective tissues, the intra-abdominal area, or organs like the gastrointestinal tract.

Hysterectomy SSIs (SSI-HYST)

Abdominal hysterectomy removes the uterus through an incision in the lower abdomen. SSI-HYST can affect the area around the incision. More serious SSI-HYSTs can cause infections in the muscles or reproductive tract.

What’s Here

The dashboards show annual data on HAIs that hospitals have to report. You can see how Washington hospitals are currently performing, and the progress they have made in reducing HAIs. The dashboards display the last 5 years of available data. 

  • The Device-Associated HAI Dashboard includes data for CLABSI and CAUTI.
  • The LabID Dashboard contains data for CDI and MRSA bacteremia.
  • The SSI Dashboard includes data for SSI-COLO and SSI-HYST.

The data for these dashboards comes from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Washington HAI reporting requirements are the same as the ones from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

View the Data

Device Associated HAI Data

Laboratory-Identified HAI Data

Surgical Site Infection Data

Learn More

The Washington Department of Health Healthcare-Associated Infections/Antibiotic Resistance (HAI/AR) Program Epidemiology team works closely with local health jurisdictions (LHJs) and Washington state hospitals to track HAIs. For detailed information about HAIs in Washington, please visit the HAI Epidemiology and Reporting page.

Additional Resources

Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI), CDC

Central Line-associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI), CDC

Clostridioides difficile, CDC

HAI Dashboard Notes

NHSN Reporting Requirements, CDC (PDF)

NHSN Standardized Infection Ratio (SIR) Guide, CDC (PDF)



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