Methodist Willowbrook Hospital Achieves Zero Infection Rate


Methodist Willowbrook Hospital in Houston reports that it has not recorded a healthcare-acquired infection (HAI) in the top three at-risk areas for 14 consecutive months.

The 251-bed hospital, part of the Methodist Hospital System, achieved a zero infection rate in ventilator associated pneumonias, central line bloodstream infections, and urinary catheter infections. Hospitals nationwide have been charged with reducing the number of hospital-acquired infections and other preventable injuries as a result of the Institute of Medicines patient safety initiatives. Published studies show that there are 1.7 million infections in hospitals annually, resulting in almost 100,000 deaths a yearmost in the above three categories.

"Once thought unattainable, Willowbrook has set a new gold standard by sustaining zero infections in all three categories for this period," said Dr. Charles Denham, chairman of Texas Medical Institute of Technology and co-chair of multiple national programs at the National Quality Forum. "High performance care occurs at the intersection of great leadership, safe practices that deliver predicable outcomes, and implementation of technologies. It all starts with leadership, and the extraordinary success of Methodist Willowbrook Hospital makes it a role model for our nation."

Some of the things Willowbrook did to lower infection rates include working collaboratively with its nursing staff to develop an electronic tool within the electronic medical record that alerts nurses when specific patient care tasks should be performed. For example, it alerts the nurse on the number of days a urinary catheter has been in place and to review for continued need.

"If a patient has a stroke, the nurse is focused on hundreds of critical tasks to ensure the patient is recovering appropriately. The removal of a simple catheter could easily be overlooked, and early removal is key to reducing the chance of a urinary tract infection," says Dr. Patrick Woods, emergency department medical director and chief of quality and patient safety at the hospital. "Having a committed and talented staff assisted by technology has been a key to success at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital."

Another key to the hospitals success is a system called electronic rounding, which is the daily review of key indicators by the hospitals quality department. The quality team reviews the chart of every patient who is at risk for any of the three infection areas to ensure appropriate action has been taken, or, collaborating with the clinical team if the plan needs to be changed, Woods says.

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