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Rice Hospital in Willmar, Minn., selected for state initiative to reduce hospital-acquired infections

WILLMAR -- Rice Memorial Hospital has been selected to participate in a Stratis Health initiative to reduce two types of hospital-acquired infections: urinary tract infections associated with catheter use, and surgical site infections.

Stratis Health is the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization in Minnesota. The initiative is supported by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Nationally, between 5 and 10 percent of hospital patients develop an infection associated with their stay in the hospital. Urinary tract infections linked to catheter use and infections at a surgical site are two of the most common.

Over the next three years, Rice will participate in quality improvement activities and interventions and share best practices with other hospitals in Minnesota.

"We have learned through our quality improvement efforts that we don't have to reinvent the wheel," said Wendy Ulferts, chief nursing officer. "This initiative allows us to partner with others and exchange information in order to produce the safest and highest quality care for our patients."

Efforts will start this year with catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Rice had none of these in 2011.

Reducing this common type of infection "has always been important to us," Ulferts said. "This initiative will bring new techniques and standards of care that will further reduce the risk for our patients."

Rice will begin reporting all catheter-associated urinary tract infections among intensive care unit patients this year to the National Health Safety Network. The data will be used to determine Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates beginning in 2014.

The infection rate also will be reported to the public on the Hospital Compare website run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Nancy Loge, infection prevention and control nurse at Rice, is responsible for ensuring that the hospital's procedures for catheter insertion and care are consistent with current best practices. She will also monitor and measure prevention processes and outcomes for compliance with the Joint Commission and the National Health Safety Network.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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