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The impact of healthcare system integration on infection prevention programs is unknown. Using catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) prevention as an example, we hypothesize that US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) nursing homes have a more robust infection prevention infrastructure due to integration and centralization compared with non–VA nursing homes.
VA and non-VA nursing homes participating in the AHRQ Safety Program for Long-Term Care collaborative.
Nursing homes provided baseline information about their infection prevention programs to assess strengths and gaps related to CAUTI prevention via a needs assessment questionnaire.
A total of 353 of 494 nursing homes from 41 states (71%; 47 VA and 306 non-VA facilities) responded. VA nursing homes reported more hours per week devoted to infection prevention-related activities (31 vs 12 hours; P<.001) and were more likely to have committees that reviewed healthcare-associated infections. Compared with non-VA facilities, a higher percentage of VA nursing homes reported tracking CAUTI rates (94% vs 66%; P<.001), sharing CAUTI data with leadership (94% vs 70%; P=.014) and with nursing personnel (85% vs 56%, P=.003). However, fewer VA nursing homes reported having policies for appropriate catheter use (64% vs 81%; P=.004) and catheter insertion (83% vs 94%; P=.004).
Among nursing homes participating in an AHRQ-funded collaborative, VA and non-VA nursing homes differed in their approach to CAUTI prevention. Best practices from both settings should be applied universally to create an optimal infection prevention program within emerging integrated healthcare systems.
Healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is costly and causes substantial morbidity. We sought to understand why some hospitals were engaged in HAI prevention activities while others were not. Because preliminary data indicated that hospital leadership played an important role, we sought better to understand which behaviors are exhibited by leaders who are successful at implementing HAI prevention practices in US hospitals.
We report phases 2 and 3 of a 3-phase study. In phase 2, 14 purposefully sampled US hospitals were selected from among the 72% of 700 invited hospitals whose lead infection preventionist had completed a quantitative survey on HAI prevention during phase 1. Qualitative data were collected during 38 semistructured phone interviews with key personnel at the 14 hospitals. During phase 3, we conducted 48 interviews during 6 in-person site visits to identify recurrent and unifying themes that characterize behaviors of successful leaders.
We found that successful leaders (1) cultivated a culture of clinical excellence and effectively communicated it to staff; (2) focused on overcoming barriers and dealt directly with resistant staff or process issues that impeded prevention of HAI; (3) inspired their employees; and (4) thought strategically while acting locally, which involved politicking before crucial committee votes, leveraging personal prestige to move initiatives forward, and forming partnerships across disciplines. Hospital epidemiologists and infection preventionists often played more important leadership roles in their hospital's patient safety activities than did senior executives.
Leadership plays an important role in infection prevention activities. The behaviors of successful leaders could be adopted by others who seek to prevent HAI.
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