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3 years out, safety checklist continues to keep hospital infections in check
Date:2/4/2010

The state of Michigan, which used a five-step checklist developed at Johns Hopkins to virtually eliminate bloodstream infections in its hospitals' intensive care units , has been able to keep the number of these common, costly and potentially lethal infections near zero even three years after first adopting the standardized procedures. A report on the work is being published in the February 20 issue of BMJ (British Medical Journal).

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a patient safety expert, says the widely heralded success in Michigan the first state system to tackle in a wholesale fashion infections in central-line catheters ubiquitous in intensive-care units has significantly changed the way physicians think about these infections.

"Prior to our work, we thought these were largely inevitable infections and that they were simply a cost of being in the hospital," says Pronovost, the report's leader and the developer of the checklist. "Now we know they are universally preventable. We've reset the benchmark."

Many quality improvement innovations, Pronovost says, are a flash in the pan successful while they are being implemented and monitored, only to fall by the wayside once no one is watching anymore. Sustainability of the kind seen in Michigan requires a "complete culture change" that goes well beyond checklists and reminders to wash hands and use chlorhexidine antiseptic, he says.

Culture change means a work environment in which "nurses question doctors who don't wash their hands or use the checklist diligently," Pronovost says. "It means clinicians no longer thinking central-line infections are inevitable.

"They now believe these infections are preventable and they are creating a culture where they are," he adds.

Pronovost says his new paper is one of the first large studies to demonstrat
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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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