More on Quality and Safety

AHRQ safety program helps cut catheter infections by more than 50% among nursing home patients, JAMA study shows

Project took AHRQ's Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, and molded it around long-term care facilities.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

According to a study published Friday in JAMA Internal Medicine, a patient safety project funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has helped slash the rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 54 percent across more than 400 long-term care facilities that took part.

The project took AHRQ's Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, and molded it around long-term care facilities. A new analysis looked at data from nursing homes in 38 states. Previous AHRQ efforts with this and other safety programs in hospitals have yielded significant reductions in central line associated CAUTIs and bloodstream infections, the JAMA study said.

[Also: Medicare fails to investigate suspicious infection cases from nearly 100 hospitals]

CAUTI is a type of infection common in long-term care facilities, where up to 10 percent of residents have urinary catheters. They can cause serious illness, as well as big bills from pricey treatments that often involve antibiotics and hospitalizations.

The CUSP program was designed to "promote improvements in leadership, teamwork, communication and safety culture" so as to enable consistent use of evidence-based practices for preventing infections.

Results of the analysis showed during the project, CAUTI rates plummeted from about 6.4 to 3.3 per 1,000 catheter days. Also, 75 percent of the facilities reduced CAUTI infections by at least 40 percent.

[Also: Safeguards, safety programs slash catheter-related bloodstream infections, Cedars-Sinai research shows]

Additionally, results showed orders for urine cultures, which are tests to find germs in the urine, dropped 15 percent during the study period. The project included such best practices as avoiding urine cultures for most patients with no symptoms, the JAMA study said.

"This project is an example of translating research into practice using innovative implementation strategies and by empowering front-line teams," said Lona Mody, M.D., of the University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, lead author of the study.

The study of CAUTI-prevention strategies was part of a multiyear national implementation project. The reductions took place during rolling 12-month periods from 2014 to 2016 in participating community-based nursing homes. Funded by AHRQ, the contract was led by the Health Research & Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association and a team of partners.  

Twitter: @BethJSanborn