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Zero Tolerance for Hospital Infections: July 2, 2014

Zero tolerance is quickly becoming a new watchword in infection prevention.

“We track a lot of infections in the hospital. We track surgical, wound infections, ventilator associated pneumonias. If someone has a urinary catheter or an IV catheter in their in their arm and it gets infected, we track those as well”, says Joanne Andrews, who is a registered nurse for Lee Memorial Health System specializing in infectious diseases.

The CDC reports 1.7 million Americans each year contract a hospital acquired infection. Many are drug resistant. You’ve likely heard of MRSA, a common form of these infections. Another is ventilator associated pneumonia or VAPS.

“Ventilator pneumonia is just devastating to the patient. It really prolongs their stay and morbidity and mortality. And it’s really hard for the families to sit and watch that this has occurred within our walls,” says Andrews.

With a goal of eliminating hospital infections, Lee Memorial Health System made it a mission to wipe out germs. And their killer approach has paid off.

“A lot of people said ‘we can’t get to zero’. But at Lee Memorial we have managed to get to that on several different fronts,” says Andrews.

Going for a period of years without any central line infections and VAPS.

“On almost all of our ICU units we’ve gone for years without a ventilator pneumonia. We take it very personally,” says Andrews.

From the simple act of hand washing to changing complex patterns of care - hospitals are coming clean.