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Leading Healthcare System Decreases MRSA Infection Rate by 53 Percent - Offers Protocol & Educational Materials Free of Charge to Other Organizations
Date:9/16/2008

Infant Deaths Spur Hard-Hitting, System-Wide Hand Washing Campaign That

Drives Culture Change, Saves Lives

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Novant Health, one of the top 10 integrated health systems in the country, dramatically increased hand-washing compliance from 49 to 99 percent and decreased MRSA infection rates by 53 percent from 2005 to mid-year 2008 by implementing a hard-hitting, system-wide campaign that changed the health system's culture and spared an estimated 249 patients from the medical complications of MRSA.

Executives at Novant Health feel so strongly about hand hygiene and improving the quality and safety of patient care, they are making the health system's educational materials and details of their preventive program available and downloadable free of charge at WashingHandsSavesLives.org.

"Any health system can accomplish what we did," said Paul Wiles, Novant Health CEO, whose team embarked on the no-holds-barred, zero-tolerance campaign after Wiles was devastated by the death of a premature infant from MRSA and a MRSA outbreak in a Novant hospital neonatal unit.

Wiles learned the spread of MRSA to 18 premature infants was a direct result of hospital staff and physicians not properly washing their hands before, in-between or after caring for these infants. Two infants died from complications related to being born prematurely and to MRSA.

"What an enormous cost to pay for neglecting the very simplest of precautionary measures of infection control," said Wiles. "The true cost had been in human life, but there also was the significant loss of honor and pride among clinical staff who personally accepted their failure amid careers they devoted to saving lives instead of taking them. After reading a report about this case, I realized my role as CEO must be creating a culture of hand hygiene and infection control because nobody else but me could make that happen."

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SOURCE Novant Health
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