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Six Ways You Can Help Reduce HAIs in Your Hospital

From: The Hospitalist, January 2012

Hospitalists can help prevent hospital-acquired infections

by Bryn Nelson, PhD

  1. Encourage good hand hygiene. This should be obvious, but hospitals are struggling to achieve compliance rates of even 50%. One study has found significant improvement by appealing to medical providers’ altruistic sense: “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.”1
  2. Embrace checklists. If they work for airline pilots, they can work for you. Study after study has supported their effectiveness, particularly in preventing CLABSIs and CAUTIs when well-integrated into a multifaceted approach.
  3. Bundle up. A bundled approach that emphasized proper hand hygiene, disinfection, catheter avoidance, and timely removal cut CLABSI rates by morethan half, on average, in Veterans Administration ICUs throughout the U.S.2
  4. Team up. For a C. diff-reduction effort at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Clara, Calif., success meant getting doctors, nurses, specialists, and administrators on board, both to brainstorm and to sustain momentum.
  5. Be a role model. Consistently following HAI-prevention protocols, such as contact precautions, can make adherence contagious—in a very good way.
  6. Be an innovator. By virtue of being ubiquitous in inpatient wards, hospitalists know what works and what doesn’t; your insight can be particularly valuable for a team-based, HAI-reduction effort.


  1. Grant AM, Hofmann DA. It’s not all about me: Motivating hospital hand hygiene by focusing on patients. Psychol Sci. 2011;22:1494-1499.
  2. Render ML, Hasselbeck R, Freyberg RW, Hofer TP, et al. Reduction of central line infections in Veterans Administration intensive care units: an observational cohort using a central infrastructure to support learning and improvement. BMJ Qual Saf. 2011;20(8):725-732.

This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. No part of this article can be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients, or customers by contacting our reprints department at Copyright © 2009 Society of Hospital Medicine, administered by John Wiley & Sons Inc.

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The Hospitalist newsmagazine reports on issues and trends in hospital medicine. The Hospitalist reaches more than 25,000 hospitalists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, residents, and medical administrators interested in the practice and business of hospital medicine.

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ISSN: 1553-085X