- Created on Wednesday, 29 November 2006 05:00
Electronic surveillance helps prevent infections
Software tracks and identifies data on patient infections
Imagine an employee whose job description is to search for patients in the hospital who might have infections. That would make the hospital a safer place for patients, staff and visitors, right? But given the numbers of patients in a hospital, to do it right would take many employees and still they might not see a pattern.
At Hallmark Health System (HHS), those “employees” aren’t people but a software program called MedMined, which HHS implemented last year. Since then, it has provided automated infection surveillance support to HHS infection control nurses Elaine Boerger, RN and Sue Rowland, RN, CIC. The software is helping improve infection prevention processes, reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections and assess the impact of their infection control efforts.
It works by sifting electronically through lab data generated from literally tens of thousands of patient cultures and sends information to the nurses based on culture results. “It’s a huge advantage to be able to get an early alert to an infection or pattern of infection that wouldn’t have been visible in the paper-based system we were using before,” said Maureen Pierog, HHS vice president for Quality. “We’re now able to dig deeper and more efficiently look for problems.”
Finding those patterns is one of the specialties of the system. “Say the system shows positive cultures for a number of patients in adjacent rooms,” said Boerger. “That’s a heads-up for us to investigate.” The reverse is true as well. “When we get negative cultures on all the patients on a nursing unit who have catheters, for example, we can go congratulate the staff there.”
The system can track and catalog infections that must be publicly reported. It can pinpoint potential problems in areas the infection control team wasn’t able to monitor before. And its protocol library is a back-up resource for the team when dealing with an infection. “Its biggest advantage,” said Pierog, “is that we are now made aware in a timely fashion of opportunities for improvement around potential or current infections so we can act on them quickly.”
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