MedStar Washington Hospital Center Hits Safety Milestone

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MedStar Washington Hospital Center recently celebrated a major safety milestone: two years without a single Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI) in its smallest and most vulnerable babies.

September 4, 2014

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Passes Two Years With No Central Line Infections

Washington, D.C., September 4, 2014 – The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MedStar Washington Hospital Center recently celebrated a major safety milestone: two years without a single Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI) in its smallest and most vulnerable babies.

The NICU hit the two-year mark on July 31 this year, the longest stretch without an infection in any intensive care unit at the Hospital Center. “This is unheard of, since these tiny infants are highly vulnerable to severe infections due to their immature immune systems. It takes an incredible teamwork to achieve a record of this level,” said Zacharia Cherian, MD, chairman of the Neonatology Department.

Central line infections are one of the safety outcomes measures most closely monitored by all hospitals. An estimated 41,000 CLABSIs occur in the U.S. each year.

The secret of the Hospital Center’s NICU success is a dedicated team of eight specialist nurses who work on the neonate PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) lines – four specialists who do PICC line insertion and four who change the dressings.

“Two nurses handle each insertion on an infant, with one monitoring the procedure to make certain there are no safety lapses,” said Jacquelyn Bell-Benton, RN, the NICU nursing director. “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 in the Center for Excellence in Nursing (CEN), a dedicated facility that conducts more than 60 classes per month in nursing skills and professional development. The CEN is supported exclusively through philanthropic efforts. It receives funds raised from the annual Washington Hospital Center Foundation Golf Tournament. This year’s tourney is next Monday, September 8.

The training pays off. The Hospital Center’s overall ICU CLABSI rate has declined from 2.9 per 1,000 catheter days in 2011 to 1.1 today.

And in the NICU, which treats approximately 300 babies per year, the goal is now to reach three years without a CLABSI, added Cherian.

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