Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) often need long-term intravenous (IV) access for nutrition, fluids, and medicine. Special IVs called central lines are placed through the baby’s arm, leg, neck, chest, belly button or scalp to be close to the heart, or in a large blood vessel to send medicine and nutrition into the baby’s system faster and safer.
These IVs can be life-saving but also come with risks, including an infection of the central line. Women & Infants’ NICU has put infection prevention measures in place to prevent such infections. These include:
- Inserting central lines only when they are clearly needed
- Training staff who insert central lines to use meticulous aseptic technique
- Following a checklist during insertion to be sure all prevention steps are taken
- Having the person inserting the line wear maximum barrier protection including a cap, mask, sterile gown and gloves
- Carefully cleaning the skin insertion site
- Having all staff clean their hands before handling the line
- Removing lines promptly when no longer needed
With these steps, the hospital has been able to decrease the number of NICU line infections.
Hospitals across the country use the Standardized Infection Ratio (SIR) to compare central line infection rates with other hospitals. SIR is a ratio comparing the actual number of infections at Women & Infants to the number expected based on the national benchmark, adjusting for risk factors like birthweight. Therefore:
- A SIR of 1 indicates the number of infections is as expected.
- A SIR of less than 1 is better than expected.
- A SIR of greater than 1 is worse than expected.
Women & Infants’ SIR is 0.69, which means the infection rate here is better than expected when compared to other hospitals.
Data retrieved from Hospital Compare Website for measurement period Jan – Mar 2011. Additional measures may be found at http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/.