Shands recognized as among nation's best in thwarting infection
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.
For the past three years, Shands at the University of Florida says not one of its patients in the surgical intensive care unit has received a central-line infection, which can occur if the lines, or tubes used to give patients medicine and food, have somehow been contaminated.
Considering that every year, about 41,000 patients in the U.S. get the infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and one in four of those actually die from them — Shands appears to be doing something right.
A national award recognized that accomplishment this week, with Shands being one of 12 hospitals nationwide receiving such recognition from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Critical Care Societies Collaborative. Shands was the only hospital in Florida to receive the award. Nearly 200 hospitals in the U.S. applied for the award.
“We have a culture of safety here,” said nurse Lynn Westhoff, the clinical leader of the ICU surgical unit at Shands. “Everyone is OK with respectfully reminding each other to be safe. The patient is always first.”
That means, for example, that a nurse should call out a surgeon brushing up against something non-sterile in the operating room, and vice-versa. Standardizing the way of taking blood cultures is another preventive measure. “If you contaminate the specimen by the way you do it, it muddies the reading,” Westhoff said.
“We’re a busy hospital with a lot of very ill patients, and we do lots of (central) lines, so (the award) feels good for our patients.”
Westhoff said patients are increasingly aware of safety issues as well, and notice if staff members wash their hands. Shands posts infection rates at the front of every care unit so patients’ families are aware of the safety issues that might arise. In the surgical ICU unit, the board boasts of no central-line infections or ventilator-associated infections in three years. There has been only one fall during the same period.
Other problems tend to come and go, such as pressure ulcers, or bedsores, that patients can get from lying in bed for several hours, and catheter-related urinary tract infections. When employees see those trends, they try to troubleshoot them immediately. For example, once they noticed a spike in CDIFF bacterial infections, which require a special cleanser to kill that they hadn’t been using, they got that cleanser and the infection rate dropped.
Dr. Clifford Deutschman, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and a professor of anesthesiology and critical care, presented the award to Shands. He said the hospital’s ability to sustain its zero infection rate was impressive.
“Keeping good practices in place can be hard,” Deutschman said, adding that staff can begin to take even simple behaviors like washing hands for granted. “We’re basically holding this unit up to the world.”
Deutschman added that much of the credit goes to nurses, whose training emphasizes teamwork more than physicians’. But Deutschman said all team members should hold each other accountable for patients’ safety.
“If the guy cleaning the floor sees the surgeon without gloves on, he should call it out,” Deutschman said.
The award comes on the heels of another patient safety award that Shands received last week from HHS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Shands placed second in the nation for its ability to report patient safety events aimed at reducing medical errors in hospitals.
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or email@example.com.