As the song “We Are the Champions” played over loudspeakers, nurses representing nearly every unit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital came together to celebrate the incredible achievement of reducing the number of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) by 76 percent since 2015. The celebration also commemorated the anniversary of the CLABSI Champions initiative, which helped bolster the goal to reduce these infections.
The CLABSI subgroup, an interdisciplinary team with members from nursing, the Vascular Access Team and Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, was originally tasked with bringing down CLABSI rates by 20 percent—a strategic priority under the Johns Hopkins Strategic Plan for the nursing department. To reach this goal, the committee recruited one champion from each unit who gathered monthly to learn about infection prevention and to discuss best practices.
Rather than spending a lot of money on solutions, MiKaela Olsen, a clinical nurse specialist at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and one of the CLABSI subgroup leaders, says they took a back-to-basics approach, sharing knowledge and evidence-based strategies with the champions, who took that learning back to their frontline staff. The committee and the champions also worked to standardize the protocols for preventing CLABSIs across the hospital. Best practices such as using good hand hygiene, proper procedures for changing central line dressings and effectively flushing lines to prevent blockages all contributed to the decrease in infection rates.
“This initiative was a huge success because we gave bedside staff the knowledge to go out and tackle the problem,” Olsen said. “I am very proud of the fact that we did not bring in a list of new and costly equipment but instead we went back to the basics, making sure our practices were correct and safe.”
Deborah Baker, senior vice president for nursing for Johns Hopkins Health System and vice president for nursing and patient care services for The Johns Hopkins Hospital, was on hand to
made it possible. “What is most impressive is how this team mobilized around the effort so quickly, and with such passion and focus,” Baker said. “It was really a grassroots effort led by frontline nurses.”
“I think this represents a whole new mindset for nurses,” said Peter Pronovost, director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, who was also in attendance to recognize this achievement. “They now realize that they have the power to eliminate not just this one patient harm, but all harms.
The champions celebrated their success with a champagne toast and cupcakes laid out to read “76%.” To Olsen and the entire CLABSI team, the 76 percent reduction in the number of CLABSIs is more than just a number. “It means we were able to save 100 patients from acquiring a dangerous central line infection.”
And, Olsen says, the team isn’t resting on its laurels. “We can still do better. When we started this initiative, our mantra was ‘we believe in zero CLABSIs’ and we very much still do. We will keep reaching for that goal. 2018 is going to be even better.”