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New Ideas Showcased in Research at RIV Competition

It is a risk that is often unrecognized, and PICC lines with multiple ports are often ordered as a just-in-case measure in the event that the first port gets clogged.

Chopra and colleagues found that, at the average hospital, about 75% of all PICCs used tend to be multichannel and 25% single-channel. They found every 5% increase in single-channel PICC use could prevent almost 1.5 infections per 1,000 patients, and 0.5 blood clots, with a corresponding cost savings of $13,000 per event. That can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year at large hospitals.

And those calculations, Dr. Chopra noted, do not include penalties for infections or the financial effects of having those results publicly reported. Researchers are now creating an online tool— at—that will allow users to calculate their own costs and potential savings.

“The hope of this is that it will give hospital administrators and hospital leadership and quality officers the momentum, perhaps, to overcome the inertia of not thinking actively,” said Dr. Chopra, who notched his first win after 10 years of participating in the RIV competition. “I think we don’t think actively about the choices we make when it comes to these devices.”

In the Clinical Vignettes category, winner Molly Kantor, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Diego, recounted the case of a sickle-cell disease patient whose diagnosis, and hence treatment, was delayed and who ultimately died. She outlined a series of missteps, including taking at face-value a patient-reported past medical disease, which turned out to be wrong; making certain diagnoses based on lab tests and stopping there; and anchoring on the original diagnosis when the thought process was later reevaluated.

Dr. Kantor said the case is a caution flag to hospitalists, reinforcing the need for “a broad differential diagnosis.”

“[Make] sure that the data fits together and that you’re not using just one isolated piece of information to cinch everything, including the past medical history or a certain lab test, when the whole picture doesn’t quite fit together,” she said. “Looking back at this case, it’s pretty clear that the puzzle pieces probably weren’t quite fitting together, but there was enough that the easier thing to do was to make the diagnosis and move on.”

In the Pediatric Clinical Vignettes category, winner Jennifer Ladd, MD, a resident at Duke University, won for a study of a vexing case of a 2-year-old who was irritable and stalled on developmental milestones. At the hospital, the thought was that it could likely be a recurrence of herpes simplex (HSV) encephalitis, but the spinal fluid showed no signs of that and the acyclovir, which nearly always works for the disorder, was having no effect and the symptoms worsened.

The key in the case, said Alyssa Stephany, MD, then assistant professor at Duke University and now section chief of pediatric hospital medicine at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, who presented the case in Dr. Ladd’s absence, was that the team reopened the diagnosis and didn’t get ensnared in cognitive bias. A biopsy ultimately showed HSV in the brain tissue; it was a case of recurrence, despite signs to the contrary. Foscarnet was used to effectively treat the child; it is unknown why acyclovir didn’t work in this case.

“It kind of brings to the surface that that’s what a hospitalist is—a hospitalist is that person who sits and thinks, and really thinks, about the patient and doesn’t just do their rote work of input and output of a patient through the hospital system,” Dr. Stephany said. “When you get a case like this, it makes you take pause.”

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