Trinitas Intensive Care Unit Staff Reduces Blood Stream Infections To Zero

ELIZABETH — Data show that up to 62,000 people die annually in the United States due to catheter-related blood stream infections. Moreover, nearly $3 billion are spent on these infections worldwide. For anyone who is hospitalized or who has a loved one who is hospitalized, these figures are alarming from both a health perspective and an economic one.

Medical centers across the country are working to eliminate catheter-related blood stream infections and their associated costs. There is encouraging word coming from Trinitas Regional Medical Center where healthcare professionals in the Intensive Care Unit are successfully waging war on such infections.

Following three years of participating in a national study designed to improve knowledge and awareness among health care professional about the prevention of hospital-acquired infections, Trinitas Regional Medical Center announces its remarkable record of exceeding 15 months without a single blood stream infection in its intensive care unit as a result of central venous catheter insertion and use. Since June 2010, the intensive care unit, which estimates that it inserts 30-35 catheters each month, successfully inserted and maintained all patient catheters without infection for a total of more than 4,500 catheter days.

Trinitas is among 1,055 hospitals in 47 states where 1,775 teams are participating in a major initiative headed by Peter Provonost, MD, of Johns Hopkins University Medical Center to reduce dramatically hospital-acquired blood stream infections. Debbie Durand, RN, APN, Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Intensive Care Unit, explains that since 2008 Trinitas has participated in the Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP) of the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Institute for Quality and Patient Safety. Through this program, Trinitas staffers participate in monthly conference calls with counterparts throughout the nation and in New Jersey to share information about their experience with infection prevention. She believes that the success of Trinitas in zero infections is attributed to this information sharing, as well as intensive in-service and education efforts.

“All of the members of the nursing staff in the ICU and many of the nurses throughout the entire hospital have been educated in how to eliminate central line-associated bloodstream infections,” Debbie explains. “Our success is also based on the meticulous care that our medical residents and physicians take as they insert the catheters that have three different ports to administer medications, fluids and blood transfusions to patients.” She explains that these health care professionals don personal protective equipment and observe full barrier precautions and sterile fields as they use ultrasound devices to find the vein in the neck where they then insert the catheter. The Advanced Practice Nurse also emphasizes that vigilant hand washing is a routine part of this process.

“Ultimately, by following the best practices and minimizing the time a catheter is left in place, we can directly reduce, or completely eliminate infections, as we have over the past 15 months,” Debbie adds.

“Based on our success in achieving this outstanding record of well more than an entire year without central line-associated bloodstream infections, we intend to vigorously expand this infection prevention program throughout the hospital,” continues Mary McTigue, RN, Vice President, Patient Care Services.

“Quality patient care that assures patient safety is essential to the mission of Trinitas Regional Medical Center,” summarizes Gary S. Horan, FACHE, President & Chief Executive Officer. “The dedication of our intensive care unit staff to this project is a demonstration of their commitment to excellent patient care that all staff members throughout Trinitas can emulate and, perhaps, exceed.”

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