Heroes of Infection Prevention 2018
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Making patients safer through leadership and innovation
Cindy Hou, DO, MA, MBA, FACOI
Jefferson Health New Jersey
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Dr. Cindy Hou has systematically created and sustained programs that reduced rates of multiple healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) while improving collaboration around patient safety at her hospital system.
Named physician chair of infection control for Jefferson Health New Jersey in 2012, Hou quickly determined that she wanted to expand beyond the Infection Control Committee to reduce HAIs. She established a task force to address rising Clostridium difficile (C. diff) rates that same year and followed annually with new task forces addressing central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI; 2013), Sepsis on the Floors (2014) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI; 2015).
Hou’s multi-disciplinary approach emphasizes leadership involvement and mutual respect to ensure task-force members’ engagement and long-term participation.
“It’s very important to get the right people on board,” Hou said. “You need a physician champion and a nursing champion. Then you need to engage people directly and show you respect them. We constantly give feedback highlighting areas for improvement but also recognizing achievement.”
Hou holds regular “action oriented” task force meetings that draw upon every members’ expertise.
The approach has generated impressive results: CLABSI rates at Jefferson Health have decreased from 1.8 in 2016 to 0.4 in 2017. CAUTI cases declined from 27 in 2013 to 17 in 2016. Antibiotic use decreased while the hospital-acquired C. diff rate declined from 5.1 to 3.0 in two years. A unique “Sepsis on the Floors” program—emphasizing recognition and management of hospital-onset sepsis—helped to decrease sepsis-associated mortality by 10 percent.
Along the way, Hou ensured the practical and cultural changes she and her teams generated were sustained.
“You can maintain interest if the right leaders are involved,” Hou said. “We’ve also been very consistent, expanded our task forces regularly, and continually re-educated. We found that if we just keep talking to each other, we can improve care for our patients.”