Albany Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is the first Level IV NICU in upstate New York to have completely eliminated central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI’s) over a 12-month period.
The unit also outperformed the national recommendations in 2011, with the lowest rates for any of the 18 New York State Department of Health-designated regional perinatal centers.
“Reaching this mark reflects Albany Med’s long-term commitment to achieving quality benchmarks,” said Michael Horgan, MD, division head of Neonatology.
Central line-associated bloodstream infections are a nationwide problem in neonatal ICUs where babies are vulnerable to infection and often need central lines placed for many weeks or months. Infections occur when the central lines (catheters inserted into the arm or umbilical cord running to major arteries to deliver medicine or nutrition) become contaminated with bacteria.
Though usually not life threatening, CLABSI’s are a setback for a baby and for parents who want to get their newborn home.
Albany Med has been using strict maintenance practices to care for central lines since taking part in a 2008 study on CLABSI. The statewide project studied the use of these practices and their overall affect in reducing central line infections. For example, a nurse can only insert a central line in a sterile environment in which the entire room is closed off to visitors and nonessential personnel.
“We have very complex patients here,” said Sue Furdon, NP, neonatal clinical nurse practitioner. “We know our nurses provide excellent care for our patients. This is a concrete example of that.”
“This quality initiative has been in the forefront of our unit discussions and actions for five years now,” she added, citing vigilance on the part of everyone involved in caring for patients with a central line. “It’s a lot of daily energy around one concept in the total care of the infant.”
“Clearly, the nurses own this,” said Dr. Horgan. “They are the ones managing the central lines. It’s up to them. They have taken this on and it’s remarkable.”