Every year, one particular type of medical infection kills approximately 30 percent of the estimated 99,000 people who died from hospital infections. Consumer Reports is discussing how hospitals around the country including Indiana hospitals, have been able bring down these infection rates through simple steps.
These infections are central line infections, and they are introduced through intravenous catheters that allow intensive care patients to receive medication, nutrients and fluids. The central lines have long catheters inserted into a large vein connected to the heart. These are different from regular IV lines, and can stay in place for months.
However, for infections to be prevented, it’s important that the strictest conditions of sterility be maintained. Because the central line may be touched more than once in a day to provide medications or nutrients, the chances of contamination are high. The speed with which the central line can deliver medications, fluids and nutrition also mean a speedier transmission of bloodstream infections, when bacteria are introduced through these lines. An infection of the blood stream can cause sepsis, characterized by high fever, shaking and delirium. Up to 60 percent of patients, who contract sepsis, die.
Earlier, doctors believed that these infections were part of the risk of intensive care, but now several hospitals have shown that these infection rates can be lowered, and even eliminated by following simple procedures, like checklists. Peter Pronovost at John Hopkins developed a check list that if used by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, can bring down the rates of these infections. This simple checklist can reduce the incidence of central line-linked blood stream infections by up to 66 percent.
Last year, the Health and Human Services Secretary called on all hospitals in the country to adopt the checklist. Unfortunately, not all do and not surprisingly to Indiana medical malpractice attorneys these facilities often tend to have higher rates of these infections than hospitals that do have checklist procedures firmly in place.