According to the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that four to five percent of all patients get an infection while in the hospital. However, at Madison County Hospital there has not been a hospital-acquired infection since December of 2008.
“The fact that we have not had one infection in 18 months exemplifies our staff’s dedication to quality health care,” said Fred Kolb, CEO at Madison County Hospital.
According to Jo Henman, MCH’s Infection Control Coordinator, hospitals have a history of feeling helpless when trying to prevent hospital-acquired infections.
“I think there had always been a sense that hospital infections had to be accepted, but now the mindset is changing,” said Jo Henman, who has been MCH’s Infection Control Coordinator for over 15 years. “Now we understand that there is something you can do about it.”
As the Infection Control Coordinator, Jo serves on the hospital’s Infection Control Committee. The Infection Control Committee is composed of hospital physicians and department directors who meet quarterly to discuss how to prevent infection. Each year the committee performs a risk analysis to study where patients are most vulnerable to infection while at the hospital. They then discuss the best ways to prevent infection from occurring.
“We have concentrated on this issue for years as a committee,” said Dr. Martha Geib, chair of the Infection Control Committee. “I am very proud that we have been able to see these kinds of results. To not have a hospital-acquired infection in over a year is an amazing accomplishment.”
One area the committee has focused on is hand hygiene. The committee has made sure that antibacterial hand gel dispensers are in every patient room. They also educate employees on proper hand hygiene procedures. Finally, they have created a secret shopper program to monitor compliance.
Secret shoppers are employees who observe staff in their work area to see who is following the hand hygiene guidelines. No one knows who they are or when they’ll be making observations. They report their observations back to the Infection Control Committee, who collects all the information. These reports have shown that MCH employees are 95 percent compliant in hand hygiene, which is important to keeping low infection rates.
“It really helps that every Madison County Hospital employee takes ownership of infection prevention,” said Jo. “Culturally, we understand that infection prevention is everyone’s job.”
Hospitals in Ohio report their infection rates to the Ohio Department of Health in two ways: hospital-acquired infections, infections a patient gets while staying at the hospital, and surgical site infections, infections received during a surgical procedure.
Not only does MCH have low hospital-acquired infection rates, but they also have low surgical site infections. According to Jo, nationally about two to five percent of all patients who undergo surgery get an infection. In 2009, MCH’s surgical site infection rate was .17 percent. There have been no surgical site infections for the first quarter of 2010.
“Infections you get at the hospital can be significant or hard to treat because your immunity is already low,” said Dr. Geib. “We want you to know that you have a hospital in your community concentrating on infection prevention. We want to make this hospital as safe as it can be so you can feel safe entrusting your care and the care of your family to us.”
For more information on the infection rates of Ohio hospitals, visit www.ohiohospitalcompare.ohio.gov and choose “I want to know more about: Infection.”