Education of physicians-in-training can decrease the risk for vascular catheter infection.

Sherertz RJ, Ely EW, Westbrook DM, Gledhill KS, Streed SA, Kiger B, Flynn L, Hayes S, Strong S, Cruz J, Bowton DL, Hulgan T, Haponik EF
Ann Intern Med. 2000 132 (8): 641-8

PMID: 10766683 · DOI:10.7326/0003-4819-132-8-200004180-00007

BACKGROUND - Procedure instruction for physicians-in-training is usually nonstandardized. The authors observed that during insertion of central venous catheters (CVCs), few physicians used full-size sterile drapes (an intervention proven to reduce the risk for CVC-related infection).

OBJECTIVE - To improve standardization of infection control practices and techniques during invasive procedures.

DESIGN - Nonrandomized pre-post observational trial.

SETTING - Six intensive care units and one step-down unit at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

PARTICIPANTS - Third-year medical students and physicians completing their first postgraduate year.

INTERVENTION - A 1-day course on infection control practices and procedures given in June 1996 and June 1997.

MEASUREMENTS - Surveys assessing physician attitudes toward use of sterile techniques during insertion of CVCs were administered during the baseline year and just before, immediately after, and 6 months after the first course. Preintervention and postintervention use of full-size sterile drapes was measured, and surveillance for vascular catheter-related infection was performed.

RESULTS - The perceived need for full-size sterile drapes was 22% in the year before the course and 73% 6 months after the course (P < 0.001). The perceived need for small sterile towels at the insertion site decreased reciprocally (P < 0.001). Documented use of full-size sterile drapes increased from 44% to 65% (P < 0.001). The rate of catheter-related infection decreased from 4.51 infections per 1000 patient-days before the first course to 2.92 infections per 1000 patient-days 18 months after the first course (average decrease, 3.23 infections per 1000 patient-days; P < 0.01). The estimated cost savings of this 28% decrease was at least $63000 and may have exceeded $800000.

CONCLUSIONS - Standardization of infection control practices through a course is a cost-effective way to decrease related adverse outcomes. If these findings can be reproduced, this approach may serve as a model for physicians-in-training.

MeSH Terms (10)

Bacteremia Catheterization, Central Venous Clinical Competence Cost-Benefit Analysis Education, Medical, Continuing Education, Medical, Graduate Equipment Contamination Humans Infection Control Needlestick Injuries

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