Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals

This relates to the topic of nosocomial infections from a few weeks back but I thought this interview with Dr. Peter J. Pronovost, medical director of the Quality and Safety Research Group at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, in the New York Times on Monday was interesting. Click the link for the full interview, I've just posted some snippets below. Even something as simple as making sure supplies are together and at hand can reduce infections:

At Hopkins, we tested the checklist idea in the surgical intensive care unit. It helped, though you still needed to do more to lower the infection rate. You needed to make sure that supplies — disinfectant, drapery, catheters — were near and handy. We observed that these items were stored in eight different places within the hospital, and that was why, in emergencies, people often skipped steps. So we gathered all the necessary materials and placed them together on an accessible cart. We assigned someone to be in charge of the cart and to always make sure it was stocked.


A. I’d say that a patient should ask, “What is the hospital’s infection rate?” And if that number is high or the hospital says they don’t know it, you should run. In any case, you should also ask if they use a checklist system.

Once you’re an in-patient, ask: “Do I really need this catheter? Am I getting enough benefit to exceed the risk?” With anyone who touches you, ask, “Did you wash your hands?” It sounds silly. But you have to be your own advocate.

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