Patient safety project reduces bloodstream infections by 40 percent


A unique nationwide patient safety project funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reduced the rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in intensive care units by 40 percent, according to the agency’s preliminary findings of the largest national effort to combat CLABSIs to date. This translates to saving more than 500 lives and avoiding more than $34 million in health care costs.

CLABSIs are a type of health care-associated infection (HAI). HAIs are infections that affect patients while they are receiving treatment for another condition in a health care setting. HAIs are a common complication of hospital care, affecting one in 20 patients in hospitals at any point in time. More than half of Oregon’s hospitals are involved in a nationwide initiative (Partnership for Patients) to increase patient safety and reduce HAIs.

The national project involved hospital teams at more than 1,100 adult intensive care units (ICUs) in 44 states over a 4-year period. Preliminary findings show that hospitals participating in this project reduced the rate of CLABSIs nationally from 1.903 infections per 1,000 days to 1.137 infections per 1,000 days, an overall reduction of 40 percent.

The initiative helps doctors, nurses, and other members of the clinical team understand how to identify safety problems and gives them the tools to tackle these problems that threaten the safety of their patients. It includes teaching tools and resources to support implementation at the unit level.

The first broad-scale application of this initiative was in Michigan, under the leadership of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, where it was used to significantly reduce CLABSIs in that state. Following that success, it was expanded to 10 states and then nationally through an AHRQ contract to the Health Research & Educational Trust, the research arm of the American Hospital Association.

“This partnership between the federal government and hospitals provides clear evidence that we can protect patients from these deadly infections,” said AHA President and CEO Richard J. Umbdenstock. “Hospitals remain committed to curtailing CLABSIs and enhancing safety in all clinical settings.”

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