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Hawke's Bay ICU leads NZ in clinical quality

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Clinicians at Hawke's Bay Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are amongst the first in the country to have eliminated hospital-acquired intensive care bloodstream infections in their patients for a whole year.

Intensive Care specialist Ross Freebairn said a year without a patient having bloodstream infection, associated with a catheter in a large vein, is a significant milestone.

Patients who are admitted to ICU are extremely sick and many critically. More than half the patients in our ICU will need a central vein catheter. Getting a bloodstream infection from a central vein catheter, known as Central Line Associated Bacteraemia (or CLAB), not only increases hospital length of stay and costs up to $50,000 per patient, but also carries an additional significant mortality, Dr Freebairn said.

"Avoiding complications like serious infections improves patient care and health quality while at the same time reducing costs. A motivated and clinically focused team can deliver real health benefits to our sickest patients. This cannot be achieved without a combination of both high quality dedicated nursing staff and specialised medical expertise. We need to improve efficiency without compromising patient care - preventing unnecessary infections is one way to do both," he said.

Dr Freebairn said antibiotic resistance was also a significant clinical risk and cost to Intensive Care services. "We need to avoid unnecessary antibiotic use by preventing infections. Excessive antibiotic use will not only increase pharmacy costs but will also fuel future antibiotic resistance. This is something we simply cannot afford. "

Dr Michael Park and Associate Clinical Nurse Manager Anne Stuart lead Hawke's Bay ICU as part of the national ICU collaborative to prevent CLAB.

The project is supported by the Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand and is one of the first projects to improve collaboration between all New Zealand Intensive Care Units.

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