Infection rates fall 58% with state-based safety efforts

As further proof that checklists and better communication can improve patient safety, 100 hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in nine states cut central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in newborns by 58 percent in less than a year, thanks to the Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP).

Together, the NICUs avoided 131 bloodstream infections and up to 41 deaths, which saved more than $2 million, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) report. With more than $900,000 invested in the patient safety program, return on investment has exceeded 143 percent so far.

To implement the central-line infection initiatives, each state-based team had a neonatologist leader who worked with the state's hospital association.

The state-based program involved several maintenance activities related to central lines, such as having front-line caregivers consider removing central lines when infants reached certain enteral feeding levels, and assessing and reporting catheter need during daily multidisciplinary rounds, the AHRQ noted.

The findings are particularly important, given that pediatric ICUs have 20 percent higher infection rates than adult ICUs.

Nevertheless, adult ICUs using CUSP have achieved a similar drop in infection rates, cutting infections by 40 percent over four years, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The so-called largest national effort to stop CLABSIs also saved more than $34 million in healthcare costs, AHRQ noted.

Meanwhile, another infection-prevention study found bedside bathing with antibacterial cleanser for pediatric ICU patients led to a 36 percent lower risk of bloodstream infections than those given soap-and-water baths, according to a trial led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, News Medical reported. The study shows that daily baths can go beyond a comfort measure and serve as a powerful (and affordable) tool to prevent infections among critically ill children.

For more:
- read the announcement and report
- here's the News Medical article