Checklist prompts low infection rates at Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Healthcare-acquired infection (HAI) rates at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) were below national averages, according to a New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services report. How did it do it? Through a statewide patient safety checklist.

In 2009, DHMC had an infection rate of 36 percent below the national average. In 2010, it dramatically improved to 64 percent below the national average, reports The Dartmouth. The hospital also has HAI rates 33 percent lower than the state average, according to a DHMC news brief.

"This year's report shows that, across the state, we're seeing continued improvement in patient safety and quality," said New Hamshire Deputy State Epidemiologist Jodie Dionne-Odom, an infectious disease specialist at DHMC, in the news brief. "At a time when all of our hospitals are challenged by increasing demand, the continuing commitment to quality and safety is great news for our health care providers and the people of New Hampshire who rely on us for their health and well-being."

To prevent HAIs, the state launched the "High Five for Healthy New Hampshire" campaign, which encourages 100-percent compliance with hand hygiene practices. In addition, 10 hospitals are working with Johns Hopkins University to develop HAI-prevention best practices, reports The Dartmouth.

The report may show promising results from the campaign. New Hampshire hospitals reported HAIs 39 percent lower than the national average, including 55 percent fewer central line-associated bloodstream infections and 35 percent fewer surgical site infections, according to the news brief.

There are an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year from HAIs, costing more than $30 billion in healthcare costs.

For more:
- check out the Dartmouth-Hitchcock statistics
- see the DHHS report (.pdf)
- read the Dartmouth-Hitchcock news brief
- read The Dartmouth article

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