Intensive care staff make breakthrough in fight against healthcare associated infections

NHS Lothian staff have developed a successful new approach to tackling dangers faced by intensive care units across the world.

A new education and care package for the insertion of central venous catheters has achieved a dramatic fall in the number of infections related to the use of these important devices.

The education package has been developed by staff at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE), in consultation with NHS Education for Scotland. It was initially trialed in the Intensive Care Unit at the RIE and is now being rolled out to intensive care units at the Western General Hospital and St John's Hospital in Livingston.

Carol Fraser, Interim Associate Director for Health Protection, NHS Lothian, said:

"Intensive care units face big challenges in preventing infections. They are obviously dealing with the sickest patients and devices such as central lines are vital to the patients' management.
"The Intensive Care Unit of the RIE has participated in HELICS (Hospital in Europe Link for Infection Control through Surveillance) surveillance for the past two years. The second annual report from HELICS has been published and it highlights the achievement of NHS Lothian staff in reducing the incidence of central venous catheter line infection to seven cases in 2006/7 compared to 22 the previous year."

Details of this achievement are contained in a report to the board of NHS Lothian, which meets on Wednesday, the 23rd of May.

The report states that the level of healthcare associated infections such as MRSA has remained stable in NHS Lothian, as has been the case for the last five years.

The report also details progress made on NHS Lothian's Cleanliness Champions initiative, the national healthcare associated infection education programme that provides key staff with enhanced education in infection control which they can share with colleagues.

Two study days are being held by the Cleanliness Champions organisers, with the first, being held on the same day as the board meeting, having over 170 delegates registered to attend.