Checklist, transparency cut infection rates

Hospital patients in Tennessee were once known to have higher-than-average bloodstream infections in the intensive care unit (ICU), but in only three years, hospitals in the state now score 22 percent above the national average, according to a Tennessee Department of Health report released today. How did they do it? The hospitals attribute the success of infection improvements to following safety checklists and benchmark reporting through a transparent approach, reports The Tennessean.

Following safety checklist protocols helped Nashville's Centennial Medical Center infection rate improve by 32 percent.

Previous research from Johns Hopkins also shows that using a hospital safety checklist to reduce lethal bloodstream infections in ICUs can save an average of $1.1 million a year in Michigan, offering a ten-fold return on investment.

In addition, Centennial Medical Center made infection prevention a priority and stayed committed to transparency, according to the article. For example, patients can see the infection progress data, available on the hospital's website. Centennial Chief Medical Officer Dr. F.J. Campbell said that from 2009 to June 2011, ICU infection rates dropped by 62 percent and even more at 75 percent in the NICU.

"It is really remarkable progress in a relatively short period of time," said Dr. Marion Kainer, director of prevention programs for the state Health Department.

For more information:
- read the Tennessean article
- check out the Centennial stats (.pdf)

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