Rome Memorial Hospital Intensive Care Unit Preventing Central Line Infections

    Dec. 15, 2010

    Rome Memorial Hospital recently celebrated a milestone in the battle against potentially deadly central line infections. On December 8th, the hospital held a celebration honoring staff and physicians for going 1500 days without a single central line infection in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
    Life-threatening bloodstream infections are common in ICUs across the country, causing an estimated 30,000 deaths each year in the United States. Until recently, some experts doubted whether caregivers could do much to reduce the risk in critically ill patients with weakened immune systems.
    When Rome Memorial Hospital began using new protocols and specialized equipment four years ago, the hope was that these potentially life threatening infections could be limited, if not completely eliminated.
    “As soon as we began these new protocols four years ago, the number of incidents reduced to zero,” commented Infection Prevention and Control Director LeAnna Grace. “We have combined best practices with surveillance, re-education and reinforcement to create a safer environment of care for our patients.”
    Critically ill patients are at high risk for infection because of many factors. Quality and regulatory groups have published guidelines regarding infection prevention in the ICU. A multifaceted, multi-professional team approach is necessary to develop and implement strategies to prevent infection in the critically ill patient. Bundles of intervention along with daily rounds and assessment are essential program components.
    “Our ICU staff is proud of the fact that we have been able to achieve and maintain this level of quality care for such a long period of time,” said Critical Care Services Director Loretta Myers, BSN. “What makes this special is that it is a true team effort, involving everyone from doctors and nurses to administration and support staff.”
    One important step the hospital has taken included investing in special anti-microbial catheters and kits recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although more expensive, this equipment has proven effective in preventing infections.
    “Central line infections are responsible for a large number of preventable deaths,” said Rome Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Waleed Albert, M.D., an infectious disease specialist. “Eliminating these serious infections is possible because the hospital is investing in the proper tools, which staff is using according to the recommended guidelines.”
    Prior to a procedure, caregivers clean patients' skin with an antiseptic called chlorhexidine. They cover up in full surgical attire and drape patients head to toe to maintain sterility when inserting central-line catheters, tubes passed through a large deep vein. Additionally, catheters are being used more sparingly and removed promptly as patients recover.
    Other steps the hospital has taken include the use of a checklist to ensure that proper procedure is performed on each patient. “The credit for this success really has to go to the doctors and the nurses,” Dr. Albert explained. “To continue to follow these proper procedures and best practices takes a lot of teamwork and diligence, which would be impossible without every member of the care team buying in to the program.”
    Across the country, these infections are an increasing concern, with about 80,000 incidents happening each year in hospitals. Preventing these infections could save the U.S. healthcare system more than $2.7 billion annually, according to the CDC. More importantly, following evidence-based practices saves lives.