While the rate of health-care associated infections is on the rise in hospitals in America, the rate has been in steady decline at Central Peninsula General Hospital, according to the hospital's top executive.
Health-care associated infections are any infection that begins while a patient is in the hospital. They can include staph infections, post-surgical infections, flu, pneumonia and upper respiratory infections.
Tracked in terms of patient days, the national average is .50 infections for every 100 patient days and the rate at CPGH was .19 infections per 100 patient days during the first quarter of 2005, according to Chief Executive Officer David Gilbreath.
He said the infection rate has been in steady decline at CPGH for the past five years, due to a number of programs and procedures implemented there.
One such program is the Surgical Site Infection Prevention Program, which outlines how patients are to be prepared prior to going into surgery.
"One thing we do is a lot of clipping rather than shaving," Gilbreath said.
He said studies have found shaving an area of a patient prior to a surgical procedure can cause irritation, which could in turn lead to infection.
CPGH also has implemented the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for increased hand hygiene.
"Every new employee undergoes special training in this area and goes through an annual refresher course," said Gilbreath.
In addition to learning specialized hand hygiene, physicians, nurses and technicians all use anti-bacterial soap to reduce infections.
Paul Brenner, vice president of CPGH Quality, said employees also use an alcohol-based hand disinfectant for removing possible surface contaminants, especially during flu season.
CPGH has implemented CDC guidelines for the prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia.
In addition to using appropriate antibiotics, the hospital has learned bed tilt has an effect on the incidence of pneumonia among ventilator patients, according to Gilbreath. Patients are now kept on an incline rather than lying flat.
An infection control nurse at CPGH is charged with monitoring the number of health-care-associated infections and reports her findings to the surgical committee, the medicine committee and the quality committee of the CPGH Inc. Board of Directors.
When asked if the declining infection rate at CPGH will ever reach zero, Gilbreath said he is unaware of any hospital that is at zero.
"With the volume of patients we have, we are pleased with the efforts we've taken to reduce our rate," he said.
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