Hawaii Healthcare-Associated Infections Reduced by Statewide Campaign

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BY TINA SHELTON – Hawai’i health care providers have made impressive strides in reducing one of the most dangerous infections striking patients in hospitals and health care facilities. “Central Line Infections”, as they are called, have declined by 65% since 2009, the result of a concentrated effort here to tackle the problem.

The Hawai’i Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program’s “Stop Blood Stream Infections” campaign was launched two years ago, and it spread quickly to all island hospitals.
“We were able to get something no other state did,” said Dr. Della Lin, the physician leader of the campaign. “We have 100% participation—every single intensive care unit is active in this effort.”


Central line infections develop around catheters, (or tubes), which are inserted near the heart in some seriously ill patients. The tubes allow the delivery of medicines, blood, fluid or other potentially life-saving care. But some patients acquire infections during treatment, caused by a wide variety of common and unusual bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Central line infections are among the healthcare-acquired infections that kill some 99,000 patients a year in the United States, Dr. Lin said.

“We believe with our 65% reduction in central line infections in Hawai’i, we have avoided 75 infections, and saved up to $7 million in additional health care costs,” Lin said. Patients struck by healthcare-acquired infections require more and longer treatment, escalating costs. Central line infections kill as many as ¼ of victims.

Reducing central line infections is also a nationwide goal of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), whose membership includes the University of Hawai’i Manoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). JABSOM, in cooperation with Hawai’i’s major hospitals, leads the training of medical students and new physicians (called “Residents”) in Hawai’i. An emphasis is placed on “Best Practices” to improve quality and strengthen safety in medicine.

“The hospital teams statewide—made the difference in reducing infections,” said Dr. Lin. “It is critical to have those at the patient’s bedside direct this work to be successful. The Residents from JABSOM are a critical part of that team. They are the physicians who will continue to shape quality and safety in healthcare.”

On March 30, the AAMC plans to run advertisements in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal to publicize the multi-year effort to improve “Best Practices”.

The John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), named for a visionary governor, was established in 1965 and has trained more than 4,500 medical doctors through its MD or residency program. Half of Hawai‘i’s practicing physicians are faculty or graduates of JABSOM or its Hawai‘i Residency Programs. JABSOM also trains Public Health professionals. More than 3,500 MPH, MS, DrPH and PhD degrees have been awarded from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. In 2011, three of JABSOM’s programs were ranked among the Top 100 medical schools in the country, by US News and World Report, including Geriatric Medicine ranked 13th in the country. For more information about JABSOM, visit https://jabsom.hawaii.edu.