A recent study has shown a reduction in bloodstream infections. It has found that in the UK, ICU acquired bloodstream infections have declined by 80% between 2007 and 2012.
The NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre has funded this study. And the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases has published its results.
ICU bloodstream infections dropped by 80%
The research team has collected data from more than 1 million patients. These people were admitted to 276 NHS adult ICUs within England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. The results of the study have shown an 80% drop in the ICU bloodstream infections.
In 2006, the rate of bloodstream infections was 7.3 per 1000 patient days. While the rate declined to 1.6 per 1000 patient days in 2012. Bloodstream infections occur when an infection, like E. coli or MSRA, spreads from tissues into the blood. Such a case leads to infection in the whole body.
Moreover, this type of infection is more serious as it causes severe sepsis and other problems. There can be various reasons for infections in ICU patients. These patients can develop bloodstream infections from surgical wounds or vascular and urinary catheters. Being on ventilator machines can also increase the risk of such infections.
The launch of the national infection control campaign on ICU has led the research team to measure the rates of bloodstream infections. The team found a decrease in infections due to all major organisms. There was a 95% decrease in the case of MSRA infections. While infections due to Candida reduced by 72% and E. coli by 57%.
During that time, the national focus was on the reductions in C. difficile and MSRA. Whereas the reduction in many other serious infections, related to ICU, was quite unexpected. It implied that all members of the ICU team have effectively implemented the improvements in infection control practices.
Monitoring progress of infection control practices
It was also notable that this reduction in infection rates have remained static since 2012. But there is a need to see if these rates can be decreased any further. The NHS has set new aims to reduce Gram-negative infections in ICU, especially the ones caused by E. coli.
This data collection can act as a warning sign for the emergence of new ICU infections. And can also help monitor the progress of infection control practices. In this study, the research team has collected the data of all patients admitted to ICUs. And later sent it to individual ICUs for reviewing purposes.
In addition, this data also had use in research for tracking changes and improving practice. This shows how data coordinators and statisticians work in coordination with NHS data collectors and front line clinicians. While this collaboration can provide powerful data for NHS and help track progress and inform future plans.
This infection dataset is quite unique, as it contains data of 13 years and covers the whole national ICU network. It’s one of the benefits of National Health Services that it can help in the engagement of all ICUs. And can embed infection prevention activities and common clinical practice in the whole country.