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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 6, 2008 | Vol. 38 No. 6
Group to Receive $3 Million Federal Grant to Reduce Blood Infections

By Gary Stephenson
Johns Hopkins Medicine

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has awarded nearly $3 million for a contract aimed at reducing central line-associated bloodstream infections in hospital intensive care units to a consortium made up of Johns Hopkins and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. The Health Research & Educational Trust, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, will coordinate the three-year program as part of AHRQ's overall initiative to reduce health care-associated infections.

The new program builds on a highly successful safety checklist and program developed by Peter J. Pronovost, a Johns Hopkins professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, and of surgery, and his Quality and Safety Research Group within the School of Medicine's Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. When implemented in Michigan in partnership with the MHA, participating hospitals reduced catheter-related bloodstream infections by up to 66 percent using a simple checklist of evidence-based precautions.

Often referred to as central venous catheters, central line catheters are tubes that are placed into a large vein in a patient's neck, chest or groin for administering medication or fluids or for collecting blood samples. Each year, an estimated 250,000 cases of central line-associated bloodstream infections occur in hospitals in the United States, and an estimated 30,000 to 62,000 patients who get the infections die as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Working with our team, the state of Michigan nearly eliminated these infections," Pronovost said. "Now with support from AHRQ, we will extend our work to 10 more states saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars. Just as we nearly eliminated polio, we can nearly eliminate these infections and, in doing so, build capacity to tackle the next health care ill."

Under the new AHRQ contract, the safety program will be implemented by statewide consortia in at least 10 states. The consortia, which will be established as part of this project, will include members of state hospital associations, quality improvement organizations and public health agencies.

The new project will be funded through AHRQ's Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks initiative, an implementation model of field-based research designed to promote innovation in health care delivery by accelerating the diffusion of research into practice.

Pronovost, the founding director of the Quality and Safety Research Group, also serves as medical director of Johns Hopkins' Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care and is a member of JHH's Patient Safety Committee. He also has a faculty appointment in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Earlier this year, Pronovost was named one of the world's "most influential people" of 2008 by Time magazine for his work in patient safety. The magazine's annual list recognizes people "whose power, talent or moral example is transforming our world." In September, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded a $500,000 "genius grant" to Pronovost, and the House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Henry A. Waxman (D- Calif.), recently released a report strongly endorsing Pronovost's program, noting that its use has the potential to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars throughout the United States.


Related Web sites

Johns Hopkins Quality and Safety Research Group
Johns Hopkins Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care
AHRQ's patient safety research


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