Within days of her husband’s hospitalization, Tammy Gustafsson noticed the signs popping up on other patients’ doors at DeKalb Medical Center. Stop. Contact Precautions. This means the patient within has acquired a dangerous infection.
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The government on Thursday issued new figures on the incidence of hospital-acquired infections at thousands of hospitals nationwide. With today’s report, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution keeps you on top of those findings, and digital subscribers can review comprehensive charts of the new results for 26 metro Atlanta hospitals. In addition, myajc.com will continue to update the numbers each time they are released.
The federal government has only recently begun releasing data on hospital-acquired infections for individual hospitals across the country. The first measure it began tracking was central line-associated bloodstream infections — referred to as CLABSI — and there is now a year’s worth of data behind the calculations. More recent additions are catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and surgical site infections (SSI) related to colon surgery. For the latter two measures, only six months of federal data curently exists.
The government periodicially updates the figures with the latest data. It is currently collecting information on new measures and will roll out that data next year. Over time, then, the data on each measure will get richer and deeper, and the AJC will follow it for subscribers on myajc.com. The new releases on CAUTI and SSI are at myajc now. They represent the beginning of greater transparency for patients. In addition, some experts believe that the mere fact that hospitals must publicly report this information motivates them to do a better job of controlling infections.
THE ‘CLABSI’ PROTOCOL
Many hospital patients have “central lines” – catheters similar to IVs that are placed in larger veins and can be left in place longer than a regular IV. Some of those patients end up contracting a central line-associated bloodstream infection, known by the acronym CLABSI, which can be lethal. Research has shown that when doctors and nurses follow this simple checklist, infection rates drop significantly:
- Use proper hand hygiene
- Create a sterile environment by wearing caps, masks, sterile gowns and gloves.
- Use the most effective skin antiseptic agent
- Select the optimal site on the patient’s body to insert the line
- Determine every day whether the line is still essential, so it can be removed as soon as possible