Decennial 2020 Research Sets the Agenda for Advancing Safe Healthcare

Research from Cancelled Conference Showcased in Special Journal Issue
November 02, 2020

More than 700 studies, including 250 international abstracts, highlighting worldwide progress in preventing and controlling healthcare-associated infections and addressing antibiotic resistance were published today as part of the proceedings from the Sixth Decennial International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections. The Sixth Decennial, a conference co-hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, was cancelled in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All abstracts accepted for the meeting appear in a supplement for the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

“While COVID-19 disrupted the plans for sharing the progress of preventing healthcare-associated infections and combating antibiotic resistance over the last decade, it is critical we disseminate,  learn from, and promote successes across the world,” said Denise Cardo, MD, Director of the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Despite existing and emerging threats, safe care must be delivered, and patients must be protected from harm.  We can meet this challenge with robust and informed action.”

As part of the planning for the conference, coordinated once every 10 years for the past 60 years, the Decennial Program Committee of 25 experts in infectious diseases selected the central theme, Global Solutions to Antibiotic Resistance in Healthcare, to acknowledge the need for coordinated international collaboration in the fight against healthcare-associated infections, including those caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The committee reviewed international advances of the previous decade and future trends in the fields of healthcare epidemiology, infectious diseases, infection prevention, patient safety and antibiotic stewardship. Three key topics emerged:

  • Innovation – The development of novel prevention tools, strategies, diagnostics, and therapeutics has been critical in the progress of infection prevention and addressing the threat of antibiotic resistance. Further innovation related to healthcare technology, practices, policies, and programs are needed to continue to move towards the goal of eliminating HAIs and slowing antibiotic resistance.
  • Data for Action – Facilities, states, clinicians, and other stakeholders need data to drive detection and prevention strategies to eliminate healthcare-associated infections and combat antibiotic resistance. Improvements in use of surveillance, epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory data are critical to help close knowledge gaps and allow for the implementation of effective strategies to provide safe care.
  • Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance Without Borders – Many factors impact the local and global burden and transmission of antibiotic resistance. To prevent resistant pathogens from spreading within and between healthcare facilities and the environment, constant vigilance and action are needed. Global success in containing spread of healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic resistance will require coordinated responses at the local, regional, and international levels. Public health and healthcare systems must work together to share information to detect and to implement effective practices to prevent infections from occurring and spreading.

“While we have worked to manage, control, and understand the COVID-19 pandemic, we still need to address the constant threat of treatment-resistant infections and our imperative to prevent healthcare-associated infections and foster appropriate use of antimicrobial treatments,” said David Henderson, MD, FSHEA, president of SHEA. “This volume of research is invaluable for helping us identify how best to move the field ahead to deliver safer healthcare for all.”

The meeting was planned in collaboration with the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).

To access the Decennial 2020 supplement, go to the Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology website.


The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is a professional society representing more than 2,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world who possess expertise and passion for healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. The society’s work improves public health by establishing infection-prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among healthcare providers, hospitals, and health systems. This is accomplished by leading research studies, translating research into clinical practice, developing evidence-based policies, optimizing antibiotic stewardship, and advancing the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA and its members strive to improve patient outcomes and create a safer, healthier future for all. Visit SHEA online at and

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services. CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security.  Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.

The Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP), based in CDC, has as its mission to protect patients, protect healthcare personnel, and promote safety, quality, and value in both national and international healthcare delivery systems.

Contact: Beth Casteel | | 202-868-4007
Contact: Martha Sharan | | 404-998-1787

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