The largest effort to date to tackle central-line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) has reduced infection rates in ICUs nationwide by 40%, according to preliminary findings from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
AHRQ attributes the decrease to a CLABSI safety checklist from the Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP) that encourages hospital staff to wash their hands prior to inserting central lines, avoid the femoral site, remove lines when they are no longer needed, and use the antimicrobial agent chlorhexidine to clean the patient's insertion site.
The checklist was developed by Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, FCCM, and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and originally implemented in ICUs statewide in Michigan as the Keystone Project. Since 2009, CUSP has recruited more than 1,000 participating hospitals in 44 states. CUSP collectively reported a decrease to 1.25 from 1.87 CLABSIs per 1,000 central-line days 10-12 months after implementing the program, according to AHRQ [PDF].
The real game-changer for CLABSIs has been the widespread adoption of chlorhexidine as an insertion site disinfectant, says Sanjay Saint, MD, MPH, director of the Veterans Administration at the University of Michigan Patient Safety Enhancement Program in Ann Arbor and professor of medicine at the University of Michigan. Dr. Saint is on the national leadership team of On the CUSP: Stop CAUTI (Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections), an initiative that aims to reduce mean rates of CAUTI infections by 25% in hospitals nationwide.
Although hospitalists don't routinely place central lines, their role in this procedure is growing, both in nonacademic hospitals that lack intensivists and on hospitals' general medicine floors.
"My take-home message for hospitalists: if you are putting in central lines, if you only make one change in practice, is to use chlorhexidine as the site disinfectant," Dr. Saint says.