Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reducing Infection Rates

All three medical centers in the University of Washington Medicine Health System have reported significant improvement in addressing healthcare-associated infections in their medical centers. They have implemented a “secret observation” program to observe hand hygiene practices and then a report is provided to each patient care unit and department about how they fared.

The Harborview Medical Center achieved a 50 percent decrease in the number of patients with hospital-acquired MRSA and ventilator-associated pneumonia between 2007 and 2009. That drop occurred despite having a patient population that is uniquely prone to such infections.

Northwest Hospital and Medical Center has had three central line-associated infections in the intensive care unit over the last four and one-half years, a figure that ranks well when compared with the average benchmark for similar units.

A year ago, the UW Medical Center set a goal to reduce healthcare-associated infections by 50 percent. The medical center recently reported a 46 percent reduction in central line infections which is a few percentage points short of reaching its goal. Hand hygiene efforts, audited by observations are near perfect at UW Medical Center. The compliance rate for 1,009 observations of nurses, medical and health assistants in June 2010 was 100 percent. Overall compliance for 1,866 observations was 99 percent.

One coordinated step UW Medicine has taken to wipe out central line infections is to implement a standardized education and training program for placing central line catheters. If their training is not complete, physicians are not allowed to perform the procedure.