Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Steps in Our Journey to Zero

It is tempting to declare the “moral equivalent of war” against such global challenges as global warming, oil spills, and healthcare-acquired infections. The metaphor compels and intrigues because it unites disparate parties, focuses them on a singular goal, and demands appropriate resourcing. Many call for a “Manhattan Project-style” effort (referring to the WWII era project that resulted in the creation of the first nuclear bombs) to discover elusive solutions to longstanding problems. In the world of infection prevention, the problem of 99,000 deaths and 1.7 million healthcare-acquired infections annually is one that requires the collective energy of researchers, health care workers, and governments.

We opt, however, for the metaphor of a long journey. The problem is massive and it will require unity, focus, and resources. However, arriving at lower infection rates and establishing an improved patient safety culture will figuratively require us to “be at a different place”. A safe health care system with minimal levels of healthcare-acquired infections will look much different than where we are today.

In the midst of all this, we are already taking the first positive steps. HHS Secretary Sebelius recently declared an early victory with the news of an 18 percent decrease in national CLABIs in hospitalized patients. Success stories such as that in the state of Michigan also bode well for long-term success.

The purpose of this blog is to document our collective journey to zero HAI-related deaths. We’ll explore the varied and innovative efforts of individuals, groups, and governments. We’ll build a supportive virtual community to share best practices, provide moral support, and collaborate. Dr. Atul Gawande of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston recently characterized the HAI problem as “the easiest 100,000 lives we can save.” We share Dr. Gawande’s optimism, and we are excited to document the successes, stories, and challenges in our collective journey.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Atul Gawande has a best-selling book titled: "Better, A Surgeon's Note on Performance." He's also a keynote at this year's APIC.