Pittsburgh Posts Major Reduction in Healthcare-Associated Infections

PITTSBURGH, Pa. The Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative (PRHI) reported a 63 percent region-wide decline in healthcare-associated blood stream infections. Since 2001, the number of infections reported by participating hospitals dropped from 123 infections per quarter to 36 -- a reduction in rate from 4.3 to 1.6 infections per 1,000 patient days at risk because of the presence of a catheter. This significant decline in bloodstream infections associated with use of intravenous catheters follows an unprecedented community-wide collaborative effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve the quality of healthcare across the region. The regions hospitals, participating across competitive lines, provided both leadership and clinical expertise.

In hospitals alone, bloodstream infections are one of the most common causes of healthcare-associated infections, and many are associated with the use of intravenous catheters that are often required to administer treatment. Approximately 80,000 intravenous catheter-associated bloodstream infections occur in intensive care units each year in the United States. Bloodstream infections can be prevented with adherence to guidelines for catheter insertion and care; however, adherence to guidelines remains a problem. (For more information on the guidelines for the prevention of catheter related infections go to: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/hip/IV/Iv.htm.)

These data demonstrate what can be achieved when bold goals are set, infections are examined one-by-one for causes and lessons are shared between care givers without the fear of blame, said Peter Perreiah, managing director of the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative.

The healthcare stakeholders in southwestern Pennsylvania have challenged the traditional, by setting a goal of eliminating healthcare-associated infections in this region. By questioning the limits of what is achievable, healthcare facilities in Pittsburgh have been able to significantly improve patient safety in the entire region, said John Jernigan, MD, CDC medical epidemiologist.

The CDC and PRHI began collaborating three years ago to improve healthcare quality in the region. One of the novel regional approaches, called Perfecting Patient Care, adapted industrial improvement practices to healthcare. Perfecting Patient Care prevents infections by improving the design and flow of work and eliminating potential errors. Engaging front-line caregivers to examine mishaps immediately and implement preventive measures are the hallmarks of this method. Other elements of the collaboration include staff training about infection control measures, prevention checklists, and hospital unit feedback on infection rates and adherence to appropriate preventive practices.

PRHI is a unique coalition of major healthcare stakeholders in southwestern Pennsylvania consisting of approximately 40 healthcare facilities, 4 major insurers, 32 major employers, civic and corporate leaders, organized labor, and local public health authorities.

Source: Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative

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