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AHRQ Reduces Bloodstream Infections with Patient Safety Project

September 11, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reduced the rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in intensive care units by 40 percent thanks to a patient safety project, it recently announced. The project used the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), which uses resources to help hospital units address safety issues in a provider-setting, to prevent more than 2,000 CLABSIs. According to AHRQ, this resulted in more than 500 lives being saved and avoiding more than $34 million in health care costs.

The results were announced recently at the annual AHRQ conference, with project partners from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Johns Hopkins Medicine. The group introduced the CUSP toolkit that helped hospitals accomplish this marked reduction.

“CUSP shows us that with the right tools and resources, safety problems like these deadly infections can be prevented,” AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., said in a statement “This project gives us a framework for taking research to scale in practical ways that help front-line clinicians provide the safest care possible for their patients.”

CLABSIs are one type of healthcare-associated infection (HAI), which affect patients while they are receiving treatment for another condition in a health care setting. As AHRQ notes, HAIs are a common complication of hospital care. They affect one in 20 patients in hospitals at any point in time.

The CUSP project involved hospital teams at more than 1,100 adult intensive care units (ICUs) in 44 states over a 4-year period. According to AHRQ, the hospitals participating in this project reduced the rate of CLABSIs nationally from 1.903 infections per 1,000 central line days to 1.137 infections per 1,000 line days, an overall reduction of 40 percent.

AHRQ says CUSP combines clinical best practices with an understanding of the science of safety, improved safety culture, and an increased focus on teamwork. The toolkit includes teaching tools and resources to support implementation at the unit level. Itwas created by a team led by Peter J. Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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