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After patient death, steps taken to prevent infections

Did you know that there were around 18,000 people who died last year due to central-line infections in the hospital? And, that while this number is still rather high, overall it represents nearly a 40 percent decrease over the past ten years?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among those who end up getting central-line infections, the death rate is between 12 percent and 25 percent. However, the rate of people contracting the infections in the first place has seriously decreased thanks to medical staff and doctors taking more preventative steps -- like proper hand washing and making sure the patient and caregivers are properly covered up when the central-line, or catheter, is inserted. It turns out simple steps like this can help prevent serious injury and even death.

On Monday, the results of a decade long patient safety initiative known as the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program was released. From there it was found the infection rate has decreased from 1.903 per 1,000 days of central-line catheter use to 1.137 per 1,000 days.

The estimate is this reduction has resulted in more than 500 lives saved and prevented more than 2,000 infections. Of course, there is also a health care savings cost that is well into the millions.

When looking at what caused this nationwide initiative, it was back in 2001 that a baby died after being admitted into the hospital with burns from climbing in a bathtub. The 18-month-old ended up passing away from a central-line infection, which prompted the senior vice president for patient safety from Johns Hopkins Medicine to start the initiative.

Going forward, the hope is that more and more hospitals start to take preventative steps to improve patient safety and prevent bloodstream infection deaths.


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