The neonatal intensive care unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. recently celebrated a major safety milestone by achieving two years without a single central line-associated bloodstream infection in its smallest and most vulnerable babies, according to a news release.
The NICU hit the two-year mark July 31 this year, the longest stretch without an infection in any ICU at the hospital center.
This is unheard of, since these tiny infants are highly vulnerable to severe infections due to their immature immune systems, Zacharia Cherian, MD, chairman of the neonatology/pediatrics department at MedStar, said in the release. It takes an incredible teamwork to achieve a record of this level.
Central-line infection is one of the safety outcomes measures most closely monitored by all hospitals, with an estimated 41,000 CLABSIs occurring in the U.S. each year, according to the release.
The secret of the hospital centers NICU success is a team of eight specialist nurses who work on the neonate peripherally inserted central catheter lines four specialists who do PICC line insertion and four who change the dressings, according to the release.
Two nurses handle each insertion on an infant, with one monitoring the procedure to make certain there are no safety lapses, Jacquelyn Bell-Benton, RN, the NICU nursing director, said in the release. Our dedicated team of 49 NICU nurses all work together to make certain the environment remains sterile, ensuring the central lines are protected during the entire procedure.
Nurses at the hospital center receive training in CLABSI prevention both on the unit and at MedStars Center for Excellence in Nursing, a dedicated facility that conducts more than 60 classes per month in nursing skills and professional development. The center is supported exclusively through philanthropic efforts and receives funds from an annual golf tournament.
The hospital centers overall ICU CLABSI rate has declined from 2.9 per 1,000 catheter days in 2011 to the current years level of 1.1. In the NICU, which treats approximately 300 babies per year, the goal is to reach three years without a CLABSI, Cherian said.