January 8, 2007 “Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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It’s fast becoming a wireless world in the nation’s hospitals. A survey of 300 healthcare executives and upper-level managers published by Healthcare Informatics reveals that 72% of those surveyed have a combination of wireless and hard-wired systems in their hospitals. Another 5% of those surveyed said their hospitals are already all wireless. This survey indicates the rapid speed with which wireless services are penetrating healthcare.

MORE ON: Wireless Growth

Three out of four healthcare systems that have adopted this technology recognize that wireless access allows clinicians to use handheld and portable devices for data entry. Providers can access data from anywhere, improving productivity. It also allows them to enter patient information and capture charge data at the point of care. Laboratories should be alert to this development and should build the informatics resources necessary to support use of wireless devices.

AMAZING REDUCTION IN ONE CATEGORY OF NOSCOMIAL INFECTIONS

A recent program to reduce nosocomial infections demonstrates the effectiveness of targeted interventions. In Michigan, 103 ICUs (intensive care units) agreed to participate in a study to reduce catheter-related bloodstream infections occurring in ICUs. Evidence-based interventions were used to reduce the incidence of such infections. Results of the study were published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). At the start of the program, the median rate was 2.7 infections per 1,000 catheter days. The infection rate dropped to zero at three months! The mean rate per 1,000 catheter days dropped from 7.7 at baseline to 1.4 after 18 months. Researchers dis- closed that the analysis included 1,981 ICU-months of data, representing 375,757 catheter-days.

ADD TO: Infection Effort

In a related development, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is now posting selected hospital-acquired infection data on the Internet. The program started on January 4, 2007. Currently the agency posts data on central line-associated bloodstream infections. Later it will report other infection rates. Missouri is one of 15 states requiring hospitals to report infection rates. These two developments are grounded in the patient safety movement. The Michigan program is a demonstration of evidence-based medicine principles carefully put into clinical practice. The Missouri program is an example of transparency in hospital outcomes. The clinical laboratory industry will see similar initiatives in coming years.

MORE CONSOLIDATION IN RENAL TESTING

Renal Advantage Inc., of Brentwood, Tennessee, acquired RenaLab of Jackson, Mississippi, from Fresenius Medical Care North America on January 3. Renal Advantage operates 80 dialysis centers in 10 states and is the nation’s fourth largest dialysis provider.

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