Hospitals Work To Cut Infections in ICUs for Kids
Medical equipment used in pediatric intensive care units could be increasing children's risk of contracting bacterial infections, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the Journal, a growing focus on high rates of bacterial infections in hospitals is prompting critical-care specialists to take steps to reduce rates, a move that is "challenging the prevailing wisdom that infections are simply inevitable in a busy and stressful intensive-care environment."
Children are at greater risk of infection than adults, although prevention efforts are focused largely on adults and methods known to be effective at preventing infections in children are not always used consistently, according to experts.
Infections affect as many as 16% of children in pediatric ICUs and increase the risk of death by up to 20%, according to a review of published literature last month in Pediatric Critical Care by Jana Stockwell, a pediatric critical-care physician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Paul Sharek, chief clinical patient-safety officer for Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University, said pediatric patients "are at incredible risk for infection, with thin skins that provide a poor barrier to infection and immature or severely compromised immune systems." Sharek noted that while methods for preventing infection are fairly routine, "it's easier said than done and involves massive cultural shifts" for medical staff.
Stockwell said, "The old mindset was that these are critically ill children and infections are going to happen. Now that's changed to a mindset that says, 'Let's avoid anything that prolongs their hospitalization and makes them sicker.' We have the means to do that now" (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 4/18).