Christina Ewers

Eliminating blame to create transparency and solutions

Christina Ewers, MSN, RN, CIC
Lutheran Medical Center (part of SCL Health)
Wheat Ridge, Colorado

After launching a pilot infection prevention program for the state of New Mexico, Christina Ewers decided to make the switch from public health to infection prevention. “I realized I didn’t want to just collect data – I wanted to be able to impact patient health,” she said.

The pilot project also gave Ewers first-hand experience with a systems approach for infection prevention. Her current employer, SCL Health, uses tools of high reliability organizations, including emphasis on a systems approach to prevent accidents and improve safety. “I found this approach to be really valuable because it emphasizes objective analysis as well as system vs. individual failures,” Ewers said. “When problem-solving is about processes instead of people, people can be more transparent. We talk about what went wrong with the process instead of, ‘This is what you did wrong.’” 

Ewers used this approach to successfully tackle central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) at Lutheran Medical Center (LMC). After conducting a common cause analysis and identifying trends between CLABSI cases, she engaged facility partners to help identify gaps as well as problems with central-line processes and conditions. The team then worked together to develop interventions that would address these gaps. Just a month after initiating the CLABSI campaign, LMC went more than a year without an adult CLABSI. 

Ewers is now utilizing the same approach to attack catheter-associated urinary tract infections and C. difficile. “This approach allows for flexibility depending on the problem you’re trying to solve,” she said. “Your team changes, but the approach is the same.”

Ewers, who serves on the board for APIC Mile High Chapter 22, emphasizes the importance of APIC involvement for anyone in an infection prevention role. “Attending my local meeting every month has been tremendously valuable,” she said. “I could not do this job alone.”