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Computerized Checklist Reduces Hospital Infections, Study Finds

Bloodstream infections from central lines show significant drop (February 23)

A computerized safety checklist that automatically pulls information from patients’ electronic medical records (EMRs) was associated with a threefold drop in rates of one serious type of hospital-acquired infection, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The new findings were published online in Pediatrics.

The study, conducted in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit (ICU), targeted bloodstream infections that begin in central lines. These infections are a preventable cause of illness and death, and hospitals across the country are working to reduce their frequency.

The automated checklist, and a dashboard-style interface used to interact with it, helped caregivers to follow national guidelines for keeping patients’ central lines infection-free. The new system combed through data in EMRs and sent alerts to physicians and nurses when a patient’s central line was due for care.

During the study, the rate of central line infections in the hospital’s pediatric ICU dropped from 2.6 to 0.7 per 1,000 days of central line use.

In addition to avoiding harm to patients, the intervention saved approximately $260,000 per year in health-care costs in the pediatric ICU, the researchers estimated. Treating a single bloodstream infection from a central line costs approximately $39,000.

The researchers hope to expand the system to other uses, such as monitoring the recovery of children who have received organ transplants.

Source: Stanford School of Medicine; February 23, 2014.

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