In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections, from all types of microorganisms, including bacteria, combined, cause or contribute to 99,000 deaths each year.
In an article in Becker's Hospital Review, Dr. William Yarbrough of the Dallas VA Medical Center recommends five strategies to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired conditions (HAC's). Hospitals seeking to avoid liability for injuries and deaths resulting from hospital infections would do well to follow these recommendations.
1. Interface electronic health records to bedside monitors and medical devices. Connecting electronic health records to monitors and other medical devices helps clinicians recognize and take appropriate steps to reduce HACs by centralizing data in one place.
2. Adhere to clinical best practices. CRBSI infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, surgical site infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections comprise four types of infections that account for more than 80 percent of hospital-acquired conditions in the U.S. Many of those infections can be prevented through adherence to clinical best practices.
3. Create computerized checklists. It is easy for physicians and nurses to unintentionally forget to follow best practices when they are in crisis mode treating multiple patients in the ICU, emergency department (ED) and other high acuity care areas. Facilities can avoid this circumstance by building and integrating computerized checklists into their daily workflow for clinicians to access at the point of care.
4. Transfer patients out of the ICU and ED as soon as appropriate. The longer that critically ill patients remain in the ICU and ED, the higher the risk of their chances contracting an infection.
5. Standardizing clinical language. Standardizing clinical terms among disparate ICU, inpatient, operating room, anesthesia and inpatient clinical information systems supports better reporting and data mining, identifies best practices and improves outcomes.
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