Admitting a family member into a hospital can be a stressful time. Concerns for prognosis, finances, and overall healthcare are often in the forefront of family members’ minds. These days, patients and their loved ones additionally worry about the risk of hospital-acquired infections, commonly called HAI’s.
Dr. John J. Halperin is the Chair of the Department of Neurosciences at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, New Jersey. He explained, “Anyone who reads a paper realizes that HAI’s are a concern everyone is wrestling with. It is one of the most discussed issues in hospitals, including Overlook. With an ICU dedicated to neurologically impaired individuals, and with IV’s, catheters and ventilators in use accordingly, these areas of the hospital are particularly prone to infections.”
Dr. Halperin explained that his team has been looking into strategies for preventing HAI’s for years, leading to a recent, extensive and eye-opening study published in the journal Neurocritical Care. Conducted in Overlook’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, between January 2011 and May 2014, Dr. Halperin’s team learned that by introducing a mobile CT scanner, and reducing the frequency of patient transports for CT scans, as well as reducing catheter use:
1. Infections related to ventilator use were reduced by 48%
2. Catheter- related infections went down from 2-3 per month to zero, over a 6-month period.
3. Overall complication rates decreased by 55%.
4. ICU length of stay was lowered by 1.5 days.
5. Risk-adjusted mortality dropped by 11%.
6. Total hospital-acquired infections decreased by 53% over an 18 month period.
Dr. Halperin explained, “Critically ill neuro-care patients need CT scans, sometimes on a daily basis.” The transport process for the CT scans involves moving patients on and off stretchers, wheeling them through hallways, often to different floors and areas of the hospital. Consequently, breathing tubes, IV’s, and catheters are moved and jostled, increasing the potential for infection. Dr. Halperin further stated, “We saw a correlation between the number of transports and the number of infections. By introducing a mobile CT scanner, we could substantially reduce infections.” This study also impacted the use of catheters, as Dr. Halperin noted that ongoing assessments have now enabled his team “to cut numbers in half, in terms of overall catheter use,” similarly contributing to lowering infection rates.