Coming Clean - Fighting Hospital Infections: October 10, 2011

According to the CDC one in 20 patients will develop a hospital-acquired infection. For decades, it was considered an unavoidable risk, but the team at Lee Memorial Health System is beating the odds.

“We started to see three months without an infection, six months without an infection, a year without an infection in all the units we looked at each other and said ‘oh my gosh not only is it possible we have to do this for our patients’,” says Dr. Marilyn Kole, System Medical Director for Intensive Care Services for Lee Memorial Health System.

So they launched an initiative to wipe out germs. At the project’s core is a practice they call a bundle.

“The bundle is a group of processes that you perform the done separately they may not mean anything, but done together actually produces a great result,” says Dr. Kole.

“Each of the procedures that we do in the bundle adds to the effect of the bundle and the preventative effect,” says Steve Streed, Director of Hospital Epidemiology for Lee Memorial Health System.

The course of action includes: full body draping, check lists, for all procedures, daily inspections and site cleansing.

The estimate cost nationwide of treating hospital infections is 45-billion dollars a year. The single most effective treatment costs pennies by comparison; sanitary hand gel.

“You've probably seen throughout all of our campuses we have lots and lots of alcohol gel dispensers. That's very satisfying because, five years ago there were some up in the units but now we have them everywhere,” says Streed.

“We didn’t stop and say let’s add one thing at a time and study it and measure it. We said lets do everything we can to stop the infections,” says Dr. Kole.

Setting a standard, for other hospitals to follow. The dedication to quality patient care is…infectious.