Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center announces that it has posted another year with not a single case of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). That makes six consecutive years without this healthcare-acquired infection that can lead to increased mortality and increased cost of care for some of the hospital's sickest patients. Three other Sentara hospitals have eliminated common hospital infections in their Intensive Care Units for one year or more and infection rates across the system are trending down.
Recent national news coverage points to the 100,000 hospital deaths each year that are the direct result of patient infections obtained while in the hospital, which nationally are on the rise. Hospital acquired infections not only compromise the health of the patient, but they add to the costly provision of health care. Some estimates say that these infections add between $4.5 billion and $5.7 billion to the annual cost of healthcare in this country.
Sentara has worked for many years to measure, in real time, hospital infection rates across all its ICUs and apply proven medical best practices to reduce the incidence in its facilities. Not only is Sentara seeing significant reductions of patient infections in its facilities, several of its hospitals are marking one or more years with zero infections that at one time were considered an inevitable part of providing care. These infection rates are monitored according to Sentara's intensive care infection quality measures.
For Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, six years without a VAP places it among a handful of providers in the country performing at that level. After surpassing the five-year milestone, national leadership organizations on healthcare quality promoted the facility as a model practice for infection control. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement and VHA featured the ventilator care at Sentara Williamsburg during national conferences and in best practice publications.
When asked how it is done, lead intensivist physician Dr. John Kaiser points to consistent treatment and teamwork when caring for ventilator patients. By consistently implementing a care "bundle" of procedures for patients, Sentara Williamsburg effectively has involved physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists as part of the team. This clinical best practice has made a real difference for ICU patients.
Sentara Obici Hospital also recently marked its three year anniversary with no VAPs. Further proof that quality care, performed consistently can have a dramatic impact on improving patient care.
Sentara Bayside Hospital is one of only five hospitals in Virginia and mentioned among the best in the country for protecting patients in the intensive care unit against life-threatening central line bloodstream infections in the March Consumer Reports magazine. While not recognized in the magazine, Sentara Leigh Hospital has not had a single central line associated bloodstream infection in its ICU in the past year.
Between 2002 and 2009, the Sentara system's rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections fell from 3.68 to 0.42, a 93 percent reduction. In that same period, VAPs fell 92 percent and significant reductions were seen in cases of urinary tract infections in ICU patients across the system.
Sentara promotes a safe patient environment by promoting hand hygiene for all staff and physicians, promoting best care practices and in some cases actively screening patients for infection upon entry to the ICU.