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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
24-Feb-2014

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Contact: Erin Digitale
digitale@stanford.edu
650-724-9175
Stanford University Medical Center
@sumedicine

Computerized checklist reduces type of hospital infection, Stanford/Packard study finds

STANFORD, Calif. - A computerized safety checklist that automatically pulls information from patients' electronic medical records was associated with a threefold drop in rates of one serious type of hospital-acquired infection, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

The study, conducted in the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, targeted bloodstream infections that begin in central lines - catheters inserted into major veins. The infections are a preventable cause of illness and death, and hospitals across the country are working to reduce their frequency.

The automated checklist, and a dashboard-style interface used to interact with it, made it fast and easy for caregivers to follow national guidelines for keeping patients' central lines infection-free. The new system combed through data in the electronic medical record and pushed alerts to physicians and nurses when a patient's central line was due for care. During the study, the rate of central line infections in the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit dropped from 2.6 to 0.7 per 1,000 days of central line use.

The findings will be published online Feb. 23 in Pediatrics.

"Electronic medical records are data-rich and information-poor," said Natalie Pageler, MD, the study's lead author. Often, the data in electronic medical records is cumbersome for caregivers to use in real time, but the study showed a way to change that, said Pageler, who is a critical care medicine specialist at the hospital and a clinical associate professor of pediatrics. "Our new tool lets physicians focus on taking care of the patient while automating some of the background safety checks."

Central lines have many uses, such as administering long-term antibiotics or chemotherapy and providing access to the bloodstream in patients who need kidney dialysis or frequent blood draws. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical errors, To Err is Human, identified central line infections as a key target for reducing harm in health care. Approximately 40 percent of patients in the pediatric intensive care unit have central lines at some point during their hospital stays.

The research team collaborated with engineers from HP Labs to program the checklist and build a dashboard interface that displayed real-time alerts on a large LCD screen in the nurses' station. Alerts - shown as red, yellow or green dots beside patients' names - were generated if, for example, the dressing on a patient's central line was due to be changed, or if it was time for caregivers to re-evaluate whether medications given in the central line could be switched to oral formulations instead.

"The information was visible and easy to digest," said Deborah Franzon, MD, the study's senior author and a clinical associate professor of pediatrics and medical director of the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. "We improved compliance with best-care practices and pulled information that otherwise would have been difficult to look for. It reduced busy-work and made it possible for the health-care team to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively."

In addition to avoiding harm to patients, the intervention saved approximately $260,000 per year in health-care costs in the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit, the researchers estimated. Treating a single bloodstream infection from a central line costs approximately $39,000.

The researchers hope to expand the system to other uses, such as monitoring the recovery of children who have received organ transplants.

"The nice thing about this tool is that it's integrated into the electronic medical record, which we use every single day," Pageler said.

Added Franzon, "This system works like a GPS-based road map that pulls relevant information to the forefront, and helps guide decisions about how to get safely to the destination."

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Other Stanford members of the research team included Christopher Longhurst, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics; Matthew Wood, PhD, senior clinical analyst; David Cornfield, MD, professor of pediatrics; and Paul Sharek, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and chief clinical patient-safety officer. Jaap Suermondt, PhD, of HP Labs, also collaborated on the research.

The work was funded by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, Stanford's Child Health Research Institute Innovations in Patient Care Program, Stanford's Clinical and Translational Science Award (grant UL1RR025744) and an HP Sustainability and Social Innovation grant.

The Stanford University School of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation's top medical schools, integrating research, medical education, patient care and community service. For more news about the school, please visit http://mednews.stanford.edu. The medical school is part of Stanford Medicine, which includes Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. For information about all three, please visit http://stanfordmedicine.org/about/news.html.

Stanford Children's Health, with Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford at its core, is an internationally recognized leader in world-class, nurturing care and extraordinary outcomes in every pediatric and obstetric specialty from the routine to rare, for every child and pregnant woman. Together with our Stanford Medicine physicians, nurses, and staff, we deliver this innovative care and research through partnerships, collaborations, outreach, specialty clinics and primary care practices at more than 100 locations in the U.S. western region. As a nonprofit, we are committed to supporting our community - from caring for uninsured or underinsured kids, homeless teens and pregnant moms, to helping re-establish school nurse positions in local schools. Learn more about our full range of pre-eminent programs and network of care stanfordchildrens.org, and on our Healthier, Happy Lives blog. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford is the heart of Stanford Children's Health, and is one of the nation's top hospitals for the care of children and expectant mothers. We are the only children's hospital in Northern California with specialty programs ranked in the U.S. News & World Report Top 10 for 2013-14, and the only hospital in Northern California to receive the national 2013 Leapfrog Group Top Children's Hospital award for quality and patient care safety. Discover more at Discover more at stanfordchildrens.org.



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