Patients still struggle to determine a hospital’s safety based on its infection rates. However, things are slowly changing for the better. More and more hospitals are beginning to report their infection rates. Approximately, 1,500 hospitals report infection data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, these reports are strictly confidential. The Agency of Health Care Research and Quality also collects data from hospitals in 42 states, but these hospitals are not named.
The Leapfrog website reports patient safety ratings, allowing you to screen hospitals in any city in Indiana, and compare ratings. Simply enter your search preferences (city/state) and wait for the listings. Follow THIS LINK to see an example of hospitals in Indianapolis.
If you cannot choose your hospital, make your concerns about central line infections apparent to your care givers. Consumers Union’s Safe Patients Project has advice for patients and their families to protect against infection risks.
• Insist that all care givers wash their hands with soap before touching the patient.
• Care givers must also wear sterile gloves before touching the catheter.
• Care givers must follow the checklist, and remove invasive devices like central lines and tubes, as soon as they are not needed anymore.
Also, ask if your care givers are following the Pronovost checklist. The checklist includes the following steps
• Wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based solution. This must be done before and after a patient examination, and inserting and dressing catheters.
• Disinfect the skin before inserting the catheter, and while changing the dressing.
• Use full precautions, including wearing a mask, cap, and sterile gown.
• Cover the patient with a sterile sheet.
• If possible, use another subclavian site for placing the catheter. As far as possible, avoid placing it in the groin area, which tends to be more susceptible to infections.
• Remove all unnecessary catheters and tubes
Adopting the checklist as standard procedure may not be easy, but as hospitals have seen and medical malpractice attorneys in Indiana know, recognition and constant reiteration of the checklist can eventually lead to safer protocols that can help avoid these preventable infections.