Akron Children’s neonatal intensive care unit earns national award


The Akron Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has a bloodstream infection rate that is more than 15 percent below the national NICU average for the most at-risk babies treated.

Akron Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) will receive a Sustained Improvement Award for Achievements in Eliminating Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections today at the American Association of Critical Care Nurses’ 2011 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition. This national award is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Healthcare Quality and the Critical Care Societies Collaborative.

In 2007, the NICU identified bloodstream infection reduction as a focus area for improvement. At that time, the bloodstream infection rate for all infants was 10 percent. For infants 22-29 weeks gestation at birth, the most at-risk group, the rate was 31 percent. By 2009, the last year for which data is complete, Children’s NICU infection rate for all infants was down to 2.6 percent compared to a 5.2 percent national average, and for the most at-risk babies, 7.8 percent compared to 23.8 percent national average.

“We have visitors from other hospitals coming to visit and see how we were able to accomplish this,” said Judy Ohlinger, improvement and research coordinator of the NICU. “What we learned about the importance of organizational culture and its role in improvement capabilities is still being practiced and refined in our unit today as demonstrated in the project.”

It is estimated that each neonatal bloodstream infection costs about $35,000 and adds about two weeks to a baby’s hospital stay.

About the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital

Children’s 59-bed level III NICU admits 600-650 neonates per year. The team includes eight neonatologists, 12 neonatal nurse practitioners, 150 staff nurses, two lactation consultants and two case managers. Children’s also offers level II NICU services at Akron City Hospital, Akron General Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown.

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