"Bundles" help cut hospital infection rates

Increasingly, hospitals are adopting an approach known as a "bundle" when it comes to avoiding serious bacterial infections. According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, which defines bundles as groups of scientifically-validated processes needed for patients facing risky treatments, thousands have hospitals have begun to practice this way.

Bundles vary depending on the condition being addressed, of course. For example, for the prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia, the appropriate bundle calls for the head of the patient's head to be elevated, waking the patient daily for assessment, and taking preventative steps to prevent blood clots and ulcers. Bundles also exist for prevention of surgical site and central-line catheter infections and sepsis. Most bundles include careful hand hygiene, a key element in many infection-control efforts.

Generally speaking, the key to bundles is that all of the activities must be performed--they call for an "all-or-nothing" approach, according to IHI director Fran Griffin. When that happens, the results can be dramatic. One hospital, BryanLGH Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb., put the ventilator-associated pneumonia bundle in place, and went 27 months without any instances of this infection.

To learn more about infection-control bundles:
- read this USA Today piece

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