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Checklists Can Reduce Hospital-borne Infections Dramatically

There is a low-tech way to cut down on a deadly infection that strikes roughly 80,000 intensive-care patients in the U.S. every year. Michigan hospitals dramatically lowered rates of bloodstream infections in their patients by following a five-step checklist. However, nearly three years after the study appeared meaningful use of the checklist remains limited. The list prescribed steps that doctors and nurses in the intensive-care unit should take when performing a common procedure. The procedure is inserting a catheter into a vein just outside the patient’s heart, to allow easy delivery of intravenous drugs and fluids. The steps are quite simple and the Michigan study found that putting the checklist in place lowered the rate of bloodstream infections related to catheter use by 66%. Experts believe that despite the checklists low cost and practical steps, hospitals are slow to implement them simply because it’s a culture piece. Nurses are afraid of backlashes from their physicians. This culture clash is allowing between 30,000 and 60,000 people per year to die, and hospitals are ignoring the need for such checklists. It is time for hospitals to require the checklists to ensure that people do not die from preventable hospital-borne infections. To read more about the checklists, please click the link.