While the statistics around rising Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections throughout the United States are grim, in this post I want to highlight three organizations that are making great strides in reducing infection rates.
More than anything these three organizations prove that the status quo is not only unacceptable; it’s also unnecessary. With the proper investments in environmental services, staff training, patient education and tracking, we can make significant and tangible progress in lowering the rates of C. diff colonization, infections and deaths.
Here are the 3 Rock Stars:
1) The University Hospitals Bristol decreased the number of C. diff cases by 90% over the past 5 years, from 364 in the period from April 2007 – March 2008 to 54 in April 2011 – March 2012. Key to UHB’s success is an enormous change in how they think about C. diff and other infections. According to Christine Perry, trust director of infection and disease control, “Up until five or six years ago, people thought that because you were elderly or had a chest infection and were on antibiotics, you would get an infection such as C. diff. Now people see it very differently, that infections are preventable.” The importance of believing that progress can be made in the fight against C. diff cannot be overstated.
2) The Illinois Department of Public Health kicked off a new statewide education campaign in June to educate health care workers and hospital staff about C. diff prevention. The Illinois Campaign to Eliminate C. diff (ICE C. diff) will include educational webinars and regional meetings through a partnership with IFMC-IL, the state healthcare quality improvement organization. As of March 6, 137 facilities statewide have signed up for the program.
3) In Ohio, Anderson Hospital in Cincinnati is reporting great results in reducing hospital acquired infections, including C. diff, through implementing a new technology that uses ultraviolet light to eliminate harmful bacteria. The technology, called IRiS (Intelligent Room Sterilization), has been used by the environmental cleaning team at Anderson (who refer to it as the “Germinator”) since last summer and has resulted in a 32 drop in the rate of C. diff infections in the past year. Again, statements from the executives at Anderson reflect a shift in mindset that is crucial to our long-term ability to save lives and money. “We already do a tremendous job of reducing the risk of infection to our patients, but we want to do everything we can to provide an even safer environment,” said Gayle Heintzelman, site administrator at Clermont Hospital, the sister organization to Anderson. IRiS is distributed by Medline Industries.
Certainly, there is much more work that needs to be done by healthcare executives, physicians, hospital workers and patient advocates to reverse the current trends. But it’s vital that we educate both those who work in healthcare and those receiving those services that change is possible and laud those organizations that are showing the way.
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