Four hospitals serving Virginia patients reduced healthcare-acquired infection rates a collective 41 percent within 90 days, resulting in savings of $1.2 million in additional costs to the healthcare delivery system. Adding a persistent action plan to existing handwashing protocols, these hospitals improved patient safety and quality, reported 59 fewer infections and reduced patient length-of-stay and unnecessary readmissions.
VHHA Services, a subsidiary of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, coordinated a study among the four hospitals to determine if adding a persistent hand sanitizing lotion and a persistent surface disinfectant to current practices reduces HAI rates. The products, developed by Germ Pro Products, Inc., offer continual, persistent effects that kill germs on hands for four hours and on surfaces for up to 28 days.
Healthcare workers at the four hospitals were instructed to apply Germ Pro Hand Sanitizing Lotion at the start of their workday and reapply every four hours. They were told to continue washing their hands or using an alcohol sanitizer as recommended in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hand hygiene guidelines. Environmental services employees were instructed to apply the surface disinfectant to "touch points" only. Rooms were disinfected after patient discharges and common hospital areas were treated monthly. No capital investment was required by the participating hospitals.
The study ran three months and compared HAI rates during the study to the three months prior to the study period. After the three-month trial period, results showed an average of 41.5 percent fewer infections per 1,000 patient days. Individual hospitals reduced infections 29.4 percent, 32.4 percent, 50 percent and 54.2 percent respectively.
The CDC estimates the average cost of an HAI is $20,549, which results in a cost savings estimate of $1.2 million for the 59 HAIs prevented. The cost to implement both products is less than $15,000 for three months.
"Our Clostridium difficile (C. diff) rates dropped significantly," says Linda Sokos, MT, CIC, of Danville Regional Medical Center. "Needless to say, the Infection Control Committee recommended that the [Germ Pro] products be adopted. Nursing leadership concurred and we are in the process of bringing them in-house in all of our patient care areas."
Adds Rebecca Bartles, MPH, CIC, corporate manager of the infection prevention department at Johnson City Medical Center, a member of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), "During the trial, we observed a 32.4 percent reduction in Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), C. diff and multidrug-resistant Gram-negative transmission rates. Although healthcare-acquired infections are often caused by multiple factors, this significant reduction indicates that a correlation may exist between these products and reduced environmental contamination. Additionally, we have observed a sustained decrease in infections at JCMC since the products were implemented in all areas. Based on these favorable results, MSHA facilities have implemented Germ Pro products system-wide."
"The most unique aspect of the Germ Pro Hand Sanitizing Lotion is its ability to 'persistently' kill pathogens in between hand washings preventing staff from picking up and transmitting germs to the patient," says David Jenkins, vice president at VHHA Services. "As an added benefit, the hypoallergenic lotion creates a protective hydrophobic polymeric layer over the skin that helps heal hands from the harsh effects of alcohol rubs and repeated hand washings. The need for the use of hand lotion to improve skin integrity as part of a comprehensive hand hygiene program has been well documented. As the lotion also helps reduce infections, multiple goals are achieved."
As a result of these four successful trials, 15 hospitals have adopted the Germ Pro persistent products as part of their overall infection prevention programs.