Far too many hospitals are functioning without any infection control policy that specifically requires the implementation of an ICU checklist. Even the hospitals that do have some kind of policy requiring the use of a checklist do not bother to make sure staff are complying with these regularly.
Those are the disturbing findings of a new study by researchers at Columbia University School of Nursing. The research found as many as one out of every 10 intensive care units had no checklist in place to prevent dangerous hospital-acquired infections like central line-associated bloodstream infections. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is one of the most dangerous hospital-acquired infections, and as one as many as one in four hospitals had no checklist in place for preventing these infections.
That was not the only disturbing news. The research also found even when hospitals did implement checklist policies, the checklists were not being followed properly. In fact, according to the research, they were being followed only 50% of the time.
The results of the study were published recently in the American Journal of Infection Control, and as part of the study, researchers analyzed the infection-prevention policies in place at 1635 ICUs at 975 hospitals. Among other findings, the researchers found only one third of intensive care units were equipped with electronic monitoring systems for tracking compliance and just over one-third bothered to hire an employee, whose job was to ensure compliance. More than 90% of the ICUs had checklists for sterile catheter insertion, but in reality, these checklists were being followed only 50% of the time. As many as 75% of the ICUs had policies in place for the prevention of urinary tract infections, but the checklists were being followed only 70% of the time.