MedStar Washington Neonatal ICU Achieves Three Years Without a Central Line Infection

August 4, 2015

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at MedStar Washington Hospital Center reached a remarkable safety milestone on July 31 -- three years with zero central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in its tiniest and most vulnerable babies. While three years CLABSI-free is extraordinary for any intensive care unit, what makes this accomplishment so remarkable is that these babies “are so small and fragile it makes it easier for infection to spread,” says Zacharia Cherian, MD, chairman of neonatology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “In addition, their immune systems are still immature, so fighting off infection is much more difficult than for a healthy baby.”

Taking Central Line Infection Prevention to the Next Level

July 13, 2015

Central venous catheters (CVCs) play an integral role in healthcare, however studies have shown that they are among the most frequent cause of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Their use is associated with a risk of bloodstream infection caused by microorganisms colonizing the external surface of the device or the fluid pathway when the device is inserted or in the course of its use. The Joint Commission’s CLABSI Toolkit notes that “Employing relatively simple evidence-based practices to reduce, if not eliminate, CLABSIs appears to be within the reach of even resource-limited settings. Within this framework, HAIs—and CLABSIs in particular—are more and more being viewed as ‘preventable’ events.”

Boosting Gut Bacteria Defense System May Lead to Better Bloodstream Infection Treatments

June 8, 2015

An upset in the body's natural balance of gut bacteria that may lead to life-threatening bloodstream infections can be reversed by enhancing a specific immune defense response, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found. In the study, published online in Nature Medicine, scientists identified how a certain transcription factor -- a protein that that turns genes on and off -- works in partnership with a naturally occurring antibiotic to kill infection-causing fungi called Candida albicans.

Expanding Intravascular Catheter Surveillance: Issues and Obstacles

May 28, 2015

Therapies administered via vascular access catheters are a mainstay of both acute and chronic medical treatment. In fact when all types of vascular catheters are combined, the category may well represent the largest type of invasive device used in healthcare. However their ubiquitous presence, ironically, makes it very difficult to measure with any degree of statistical precision their associated device utilization rates. The use of peripheral catheters (PIVs), for example, is so widespread in the United States that their use is obscured  among other procedure codes, rather being coded separately,  and recorded uniquely only in individual patient records. Aggregate data is absent in any administrative datasets.  In general the frequency of catheter use must be inferred from the number of units sold by their various manufacturers. Today, this number reportedly exceeds 300 million but is at best an estimate.

Truly Getting to Zero: Theoretical Considerations for Elimination of CLABSIs

May 28, 2015

If you have ever watched a fibrin sheath progress to a thrombus on the surface of a catheter -- a process that initiates instantly upon entry into the bloodstream and proceeds quickly, often in just minutes -- you will understand why the presence of contaminating bacteria on the surface of a catheter is something to be rigorously avoided. The rapidly forming fibrin sheath encases such surface bacteria, both shielding them and facilitating biofilm formation.

UCI Receives Up to $5 Million to Advance Bloodstream Infection Detection Technology

May 1, 2015

A UC Irvine research team will receive up to $5 million to further develop a bloodstream infection detection system that speeds up diagnosis times with unprecedented accuracy – allowing physicians to treat patients with potentially deadly ailments more promptly and effectively. The five-year federal award is part of a National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases program to fund nine institutions that will create tools to identify certain pathogens that frequently cause infections in healthcare settings – especially those that are resistant to most antimicrobials.