About Eric Dickson, MD, MHCM

President and CEO, UMass Memorial Health Care Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Teamwork makes the dream work – and our patients win big

With the Red Sox in the ALCS playoffs and the Patriots’ return to dominance in the AFC East, I am reminded about the importance of teamwork and how just one player, despite their best intentions, can make an honest mistake and cost the team a game. And an honest mistake at a hospital – like forgetting to foam in or wearing a mask during central line placement – can make the difference between a patient recovering or getting worse. That’s why I’m so impressed by the great teamwork and low hospital-acquired infection rates occurring at the Medical Center.

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You may not know that the Medical Center has some of the lowest hospital-acquired infection rates in the country. In the current Centers for Medicare Hospital Compare reports, we are in an elite group of hospitals based on our low, central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) and catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) rates.

What’s even more impressive? The teamwork required to achieve this. To prevent hospital-acquired infections, everyone – from the people who deliver food, to the providers prescribing antibiotics, to the caregivers cleaning the room – must be relentless in following infection control practices designed to protect our patients. When we are, the results can be amazing. For example, the CCU and 3ICU at Memorial Campus have gone close to 1,200 days without a central-line infection. That’s phenomenal!

How did the team tackle this tough issue? It required a multi-disciplinary taskforce including urology, nursing, infection control, materials management and IS support. They began focusing on decreasing our CAUTI rate in 2014 and took us from being about average to becoming exceptional. Some of the steps taken to reach this achievement:

  • Reviewing the multiple catheters available and standardizing to just four.
  • Re-training everyone involved in placing catheters.
  • Revising our testing procedure in the lab and how tests are ordered.
  • Educating physicians about when to consider a CAUTI and what test to order.
  • Giving feedback to providers for each CAUTI identified.

Within nursing, changes included:

  • Developing a Medical Center-wide policy and procedure about the insertion, care and management of catheters (policy 2525).
  • Standardizing urinary catheter kits to include a urimeter for all areas, a device for catheter stabilization, and step-by-step instructions to follow for sterile insertion technique.
  • Education for all nurses as well as annual continuing education.

The quality of care we deliver is getting better and better – and being recognized – thanks to the tremendous efforts of focused teams, and to every caregiver who is dedicated to delivering top-quality care. Through the principles of teamwork, collaboration, communication and best practices, we have the power to improve the quality of any care process – and that’s what our vision to become the best place to give care, and the best place to get care is all about.

As always, thanks for taking great care of our patients and each other,

Eric