09:13pm Saturday 14 December 2019

Preventing Infections in Critical Care Units

The Consumer Reports study focused on one of the most serious infections that occur each year in hospitals:  bloodstream infections – known as central-line infections — introduced through large intravenous (IV) catheters that deliver nutrition, medication and fluids to the body.   According to the study, Glen Cove Hospital maintained a zero infection rate for 1,731 central line days – the total number of days that ICU patients had the IV catheter inserted in their neck or arm during the reporting period, and Southside Hospital was infection-free for 2,565 central line days.

 “The North Shore-LIJ Health System has a zero tolerance for preventable hospital-associated infections,” said Kenneth Abrams, MD, the health system’s senior vice president of clinical operations.   “Due to precise infection control protocols and the diligence of our surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and other clinicians, Glen Cove and Southside hospitals have stepped out in front in our quest to eliminate all preventable hospital-acquired infections.”  Between 2004 and 2008, central-line infection rates throughout the health system dropped 60.3 percent, and there was an 8.7 percent decrease in the number of days patients were on central lines.

 Central-line infections account for 15 percent of all hospital-acquired infections, but are responsible for at least 30 percent of the 99,000 annual hospital-infection-related deaths, according to Consumer Reports.

 Medical experts agree that central line infections are preventable with simple checklists, hygienic precautions and sterile practices.  “If nurses and doctors strictly adhere to infection control protocols, you get results,” said Brian Pinard, MD, chief of surgery at the 265-bed Glen Cove Hospital, which has not had a central line-associated infection in more than two years.   Adding to the success at Glen Cove, Dr. Pinard said, “The majority of central lines are inserted by a core of very experienced physicians; there is a high level of cooperation and respect between our nurses and physicians; and every staff member is held accountable for patient care.”

 Felice Jones-Lee, RN, associate executive director of quality management at Southside Hospital, a 377-bed facility, said that Southside’s critical care team and epidemiology staff have been working tirelessly at reducing central-line infections.  “We are constantly striving to reduce hospital-acquired infections by strict adherence to infection control protocols, universal precautions and simple hand washing between patients,” she said.

 Following a common-sense checklist whenever treating patients with a central line prevents infection and adds another level of accountability to staff, Dr. Pinard said.  “For example, surgeons must wear a mask, cap, sterile gown, gloves and use a drape on patients every time he or she inserts or removes a catheter, a process similar to preparing for a surgery,” he said.

  Consumer Reports analyzed central line infection data from 926 hospitals in 43 states in 2008, including 112 in New York State.  New York is among 27 states that require its hospitals to report infection rates to the state health department.  In 2007, the North Shore-LIJ Health System was the first non-public hospital system to publicly report information on the prevalence of infections at its hospitals.

For more information, visit:  www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org

Media Contact: Betty Olt

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