Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC) was recently highlighted by Healthcare Business Insights (HBI) for its success in launching a clinical quality improvement initiative. In a recent email to Sue Devoe, NMMC Director of Quality, HBI Executive Research Director Enrique Bakemeyer said, “I am excited to share your story with fellow HBI members.” HBI is a company which provides healthcare leaders with resources such as performance analytics and educational tools to assist them in developing and implementing strategic performance improvement plans. HBI makes these resources available through research and sharing of best practices from the nation’s leading hospitals and healthcare systems.
In its efforts to continually improve the quality of services provided, while reducing the cost of healthcare, NMMC is accessing all available clinical resources, including those offered by HBI, in studying best practices as they relate to patient outcomes. The latest in its work is that of adopting best practices for the elimination of healthcare-associated infection known as C. difficile colitis, caused by the bacteria, Clostridium difficile or C. difficile.
When people receive medical care in a hospital, they are at risk of exposure to serious infections called healthcare-associated infections (HAI). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the type of HAI caused by the bacteria C. difficile was estimated to cause almost half a million infections in the United States in 2011, and 29,000 died within thirty days of the initial diagnosis. CDC reports that those most at risk are people, especially older adults, who take antibiotics and also get medical care.
With its connection to antibiotic usage, it was appropriate for the NMMC team working on antibiotic stewardship to be included in the initiative to reduce and eliminate the incidence of C. difficile by launching organization wide education and protocols for the judicious use of antibiotics. Other factors which were implemented in support of program success were: proper specimen handling, appropriate cleaning practices, the practice of proper and early isolation as well as inclusion and education of patient and family. Devoe said, “I truly believe we have changed practice and we have seen benefit from the bundle we used as a model for our changes.” NMMC has had zero C. difficile HAI’s since July of 2015.