Michigan squashes infections, saves thousands of lives
January 31st, 2011
07:30 PM ET

Michigan squashes infections, saves thousands of lives

By using an intensive system of training and safety reminders, hospitals in Michigan have eliminated about one in five patient deaths, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

The pilot program in Michigan started in 2003, an effort to reduce infections among elderly patients in intensive care. In 95 participating hospitals, doctors and staff took part in regular safety meetings and held consultations with infection-prevention experts at Johns Hopkins University. The hospitals also followed formal, five-point checklists of infection control measures – some as simple as remembering to wash hands before a procedure. Other checklist items include frequent adjustments to the position of patients on respirators, and removing catheters that are not absolutely necessary.

“We wanted it to be simple,” said Dr. Allison Lipitz-Snyderman of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the study’s lead author. “These aren’t new ideas. They were already proven to work. They just weren’t disseminated as widely as you’d think.”

Previous studies found the program did reduce infections, but the new analysis goes further, showing it cut the number of actual deaths. While death rates fell in surrounding states as well, the difference was larger in Michigan. There’s no way to calculate the precise number of lives saved, but Dr. Peter Pronovost, the Hopkins physician who led the project, says it’s likely a few thousand Michigan deaths were prevented each year.

Intriguingly, the death rate for elderly ICU patients started to fall during the study period in hospitals throughout the Midwest, not just the Michigan hospitals that implemented the program. After the end of the study period, the death rate continued to drop – even faster than before – in the Michigan hospitals, only.

To Pronovost, this suggests that a shift in hospital culture, rather than specific infection-control measures, was the crucial factor. “I’m convinced that changing the mindset, from thinking these infections were inevitable, to seeing them as preventable, is what made the big difference,” Pronovost told CNN. “Culture takes a while to change.”

Infections acquired in hospitals and other medical settings cause 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year, according to federal statistics. The Hopkins researchers, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association are now overseeing a project to expand the infection-control program to all 50 states. So far all but three have signed on, with California the big holdout.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Elizabeth

    There are some procedures that are hard to keep clean, such as a bowel re-section. However, simple measures can prevent many of the infections that take place. As a woman, I've always wondered why the design of toilet seats is so filthy, and hospital visitors all have to deal with that.

    February 1, 2011 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Anonymous

    It's "Michigan Health and Hospital Association" (www.MHA.org) ... not "Michigan Health and Hospitals Corporation".

    February 1, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Eric Trouillot

    Interesting article. After showcasing an innovative Patient Gown called The ECT Gown at the APIC show last July in New Orleans, we had many Infection Control Nurses recognize the features as ones that can help minimize the risk of HAIs. The features of the ECT Gown permit various lines and tubes to be exposed outside of the gown rather then under the gown. This alone will reduce the amount of manipulation of the Patient that the bedside care provider will have. The ECT Gown acts as a "Barrier" as per some of the Infection Control Nurses thus similar to that of a glove. The un-used lumen from a central line would rest on the dry gown rather then on the moist skin of the Patient. the slits on the ECT Gown also helps anchor the lumen so it reduces the amount of times the providers need to change the dressing. Aside from the clinical value of the ECT Gown, it has shown through various clinical evaluations in SICU, ICU, Telemetry and Step Down Trauma Units that it Elevated the Patients Satisfaction due to its Overlap Design and weight. A study is being conducted and we should have white paper soon. For more details on the value and benefits of the ECT Gown, please visit http://www.ectsolutions.info. This is NOT a solicitation to sell but an attempt to showcase a Patient Gown that will satisfy Patients, Nurses and hospital with respect to cost.

    February 1, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. CLS88

    Raising circulating vitamin D leve;s to a range of 50-80 ng/ml, pre-op, will do more to reduce patient infection than all other preventive measures, combined.

    Look at recent data/research and get on it!

    February 1, 2011 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Luis

      Hallo!Nur mal ne Frage wie viele Leute spielen engeitlich noch TO:C?Ich habe es frfcher gespielt und geliebt. Wollte es mal wieder zocken, hatte aber mein UT2004 verlegt. Hab mir heute mal wieder die UT Anthology bestellt^^Wfcrd mich eben mal interessieren Und ein Lob an die Entwickler! Ich sehe es gab einige (Content)Updates, toll!

      April 9, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  5. Danette Kleppen

    check this site


    September 22, 2016 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.