Delnor hits milestone in reducing infection

By on July 20, 2010

Geneva—Delnor reached a major milestone achieved by few other hospitals in the nation—the near elimination of two different types of hospital-acquired infections, and a reduction by half in total infections monitored as part of the hospital’s goal to improve patient safety.

One type of infection successfully prevented at Delnor is called a “central line associated bloodstream infection” (CLABSI) and can occur when a central line or large catheter is inserted into a major blood vessel to administer medications and IV fluids to patients. The second is known as a “hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,” (MRSA) infection, and is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.

Either type of infection can become serious, or even life-threatening, and can extend a hospital stay, costing thousands of dollars in additional medical expenses, as well as discomfort and hardship for patients and their families, according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).

Keeping infections at bay
For the past 18 months, Delnor has had no hospital-acquired MRSA cases on patient units, an accomplishment the hospital credits to an initiative launched in 2008 by Delnor called “Project Zero.”

This effort was aimed at reducing all types of hospital-acquired infections, including preventing MRSA infections in the inpatient population.

“Infection rates at hospitals across the country are a big concern, and something people don’t often think about when going into the hospital,” said Steven Lewis, M.D., internist and infectious disease specialist at Delnor. “We started with a comparatively low infection rate, but were not satisfied. We take quality of care very seriously at Delnor and have excellent outcomes to prove it … Some people thought it was unrealistic that we set the bar at zero—and seemingly tried to achieve the impossible. But for CLABSIs and hospital-acquired MRSA, we’ve proven we’re able to achieve it.”

Since September 2009, Delnor has also had no cases of central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), an accomplishment the hospital credits to a collaborative initiative launched over three years ago, adopting the IHI’s 100K Lives Campaign.

Delnor leaders attribute the hospital’s success to a top-down commitment to improving quality at Delnor that starts with the board of directors and administration and extends to physicians and hospital staff, including the IV therapy team.

“The team of 14 specialty certified nurses are responsible for inserting 30 central catheters per month, which comprises 75 percent of all central lines placed,” said Nancy Moran, IV therapy and outpatient infusion services team leader. “These lines are usually placed in patients receiving care in intensive care units, medical/surgical units, newborn intensive care units and surgical areas.”

Moran said Delnor’s ability to eliminate CLABSIs is due to the hospital’s adoption of strict clinical practices. She said that the IV team, as well as physicians, are required to follow the practices for every central line inserted.

“If at any time a member of the team feels that compliance has been compromised, they will stop the procedure,” she said. “We are very strict in following the standard of care.”

There have been no CLABSIs reported in the last 9 months and only one infection in the last 18 months.

What you can do to protect yourself
Lynn Skelton, infection preventionist at Delnor, encourages patients to take a proactive role in their health care by knowing what to ask and do before a catheter is inserted:
• Ask a doctor or nurse to explain why the catheter is needed and for how long.
• Ask the care giver if they will be using all of the prevention methods, including washing their hands with soap or an alcohol-based solution and wearing sterile gloves before touching the catheter or the area around it.
• Patients should notify their doctor or nurse immediately if the bandage over a central line comes off, becomes wet or dirty, or if the area around the catheter is sore or red.
• Patients should not let family or friends who visit touch the catheter or the tubing.
• Patients should make sure family and friends clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after visiting.

To learn more,visit for the Illinois Hospital Report Card.

Delnor Hospital, located at 300 Randall Road in Geneva, is part of Delnor Health System, which provides a broad range of health care and wellness services for the community.