Health care-associated infections significantly decreased by 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's final report on the Winnable Battles project, which was launched in 2010 to achieve certain public health targets.

Type of infection and change

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections  -50%
  • Health care-associated MRSA -36%
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections -24%
  • Select surgical-site infections -17%
  • Clostridium difficile infections -8%

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Winnable Battles,” 2016    

On Medicare and Missing the Dentist

• In 2012, less than half of all Medicare beneficiaries had any dental visits in the past 12 months.

• 26% of beneficiaries with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level had a dental visit, compared with 73% of beneficiaries with incomes at or above 400% of the poverty level.

• Only 12% of benecificiaries (6.6 million out of 56.1 million people) reported having at least some dental insurance to help pay for medications. In contrast, 80% of Americans younger than 65 with employer-based insurance had dental benefits.

Source: The Commonwealth Fund study; “Dental Care and Medicare Beneficiaries: Access Gaps, Cost Burdens and Policy Options” by A. Willink, C. Schoen and K. Davis in Health Affairs, December 2016.

Losing Even a Little Sleep Bad for Drivers

Drivers who get less than 7 hours of sleep are significantly more likely to get into a crash than those who sleep 7 or more hours within a 24-hour time frame. The risk increases steadily the less sleep a driver gets.

Hours of sleep        Increase in risk of accident

6–7                               1.3 times

5–6                               1.9 times

4–5                               4.3 times

Less than 4                  11.5 times

Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 2016     

Good News on Cholesterol

The 2013 Food and Drug Administration ban on trans fat and food industry efforts even before the ban appear to be having the intended effect on Americans’ cholesterol levels.

Here are changes in average cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the U.S. measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), along with the levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Total cholesterol levels

1999–2000       2013–2014       CDC recommendation                                                

204 mg/dL       89 mg/dL       Less than 200 mg/dL

LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels

1999–2000       2013–2014       CDC recommendation

126 mg/dL       111 mg/dL       Less than 100 mg/dL

Triglyceride levels

1999-–2000       2013–2014       CDC recommendation

123 mg/dL      97 mg/dL       Less than 150 mg/dL

Sources: JAMA Cardiology, Nov. 30, 2016