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Focus On: Reducing Infection Rates

operating room nurse at Banner Health  

Central line infections in Banner Health ICUs less than half of what is experienced nationally

Physicians and nurses throughout intensive care units in Banner Health hospitals are using the enabling technology of an enhanced electronic medical records (EMR) system to dramatically reduce central line infections to less than half of what is commonly experienced in our nation’s ICUs.

ICUs are where the sickest patients receive care, and central line catheters are an indispensible weapon for physicians and nurses because they can rapidly deliver nutrition, medication and fluids. Yet, every year the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1.7 million infections enter patients through these catheters, and they are among the most dreaded because of their severity.

At Banner, every time a central line catheter is placed into a patient’s vein, the physician or nurse caring for the patient must complete a form on Banner’s electronic medical record system that documents that the five steps that are clinically proven to reduce the risk of a central line infection were followed.

“An ICU is an incredibly busy place with multiple activities occurring around the patient all at the same time,” says Banner Health’s Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer John Hensing, MD “Amidst this activity, our EMR documentation function for central line placement helps physicians and other staff to take a more deliberate and careful approach, all to the benefit of our patients.”

In the first half of 2011, nine of Banner’s 15 hospitals that provide intensive care reported zero central line infections to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The CMS is the federal government agency to which hospitals are required to report infection rates and other outcome measurements.

“We’re tremendously proud of this level of care for our intensive care patients,” said Hensing, “We’re looking forward to the day – and there is reason not to hope that day will come sooner than later – when every Banner hospital reports zero central line infections in their ICU,” he added.


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