A nationwide patient safety initiative utilizing the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) and funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) decreased the number of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in intensive care units by 40 percent.

This CUSP project is the largest of its kind to date. The project engaged 1,100 adult ICUs in 44 states over a  4-year period.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), under which CLABSIs are categorized, are a significant problem in hospitals nationwide and affect one in 20 patients. Therefore, preliminary results indicating that this endeavor prevented 2,000 CLABSIs and saved more than 500 lives and $34 million in health care costs, are remarkable.

“CUSP shows us that with the right tools and resources, safety problems like these deadly infections can be prevented,” AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D, said. “This project gives us a framework for taking research to scale in practical ways that help front-line clinicians provide the safest care possible for their patients.”

AHRQ, along with project collaborators from the American Hospital Association and Johns Hopkins Medicine, presented the dramatic findings this week at AHRQ’s annual conference in Bethesda, Md.  They also revealed the CUSP toolkit that aided participating hospitals in accomplishing these incredible results.

Created by a JHM team led by Peter J. Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for patient safety and quality, the CUSP is an adaptable program that helps clinical teams study the most fundamental components of patient care.  It focuses on best practices with consideration of the science of safety, improved safety culture and an increased emphasis on teamwork.

The CUSP toolkit helps doctors, nurses and other clinicians identify and solve issues that threaten the safety of their patients.  The kit includes teaching tools and resources to support implementation at the unit level.

“It is gratifying that this method has become such a powerful engine for improving the quality and safety of care nationwide,” Dr. Pronovost said.  “It is a really simple concept; trust the wisdom of your front-line clinicians.”

To learn more about AHRQ’s CUSP toolkit, click here.