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Saving Money While Saving Kids’ Lives

Arkansas Children's Hospital Prevents Deadly Infections in Hospitalized Children, Saving $1.4 million in Infection-Related Costs

LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Sept. 13, 2011)  -Through its participation in a nationwide network of children's hospitals dedicated to eradicating central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) in hospitalized children, Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) has prevented 49 of these infections and saved nearly $1.4 millionin health care spending.

In collaboration with more than 80 other children's hospitals nationwide, Arkansas Children's Hospital's participation has helped the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) Quality Transformation Network (QTN) save 355 children's lives, prevent 2,964 central line infections and pass the $100 million mark for total cost savings.

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at ACH has gone more than 250 days since the last CLABSI. ACH started working to decrease these infections two years before joining the NACHRI collaborative and is spreading this methodology to other ICUs, as well as to the Hematology/Oncology Unit.

A breakdown of the Arkansas Children's Hospital data reflects that the Hematology/Oncology unit prevented 28 infections since joining the network, and its PICU prevented 21. Of the cost savings, Hematology/Oncology spared the hospital $619,500, while the PICU saved $741,000 in health care costs.

"The bottom line is that this initiative is keeping kids alive and safe from harm every day. This is our ultimate goal," said Jonathan Bates, MD, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Children's Hospital. "We are pleased that can come hand-in-hand with savings to the overall health care system, as well."

"NACHRI congratulates Arkansas Children's Hospital on this well-timed milestone," said Lawrence McAndrews, president and CEO of NACHRI. "Together children's hospitals have successfully eliminated $100 million in preventable hospital costs at a time when legislators are making decisions about critical health care funding. Children's hospitals are demonstrating that they are leaders in pioneering quality improvement solutions that not only save money but most importantly save lives."

Central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) are infections that occur in patients' central venous catheters (a central line is flexible medical tubing inserted into the body). They are also a preventable harm that carries a price tag of at least $25,000-$45,000 per event and a 10 percent to 20 percent mortality risk for children.

"As the NACHRI QTN enters its sixth year, our faculty and clinical teams in children's hospitals are continually pushing to improve care for our patients," said NACHRI Quality Transformation Vice President Marlene Miller, MD, MSc. "Because the pediatric community is small and nimble, we can spread proven practice opportunities more rapidly, providing better quality care for children at lower overall costs." With 162 units from 88 hospitals, 40 percent of NACHRI's 220 member hospitals have participated to date in this national effort to eradicate pediatric CLABSIs as well as other healthcare associated infections.

In adult intensive care, CLABSIs have been significantly decreased through a multi-faceted intervention. Until the NACHRI QTN, the efficacy of the adult intervention in pediatric patients was unknown.

Using a model distinguished by collaboration combined with rigorous methodologies, tightly coordinated implementation and rich large data sets, NACHRI QTN hospitals have learned that reducing CLABSI events requires an approach combining evidence-based guidelines for catheter insertion with daily maintenance care for central lines. In fact, the main driver in reducing CLABSI infections is the reliable use of the recommended daily maintenance care for central lines.

A January 2010 Pediatrics journal article published the first set of findings of the NACHRI QTN that clearly differentiate the effect of insertion-related practices, well documented in adult-patient academic literature as driving the reduction of CLABSIs in intensive care, from maintenance-related practices that are predictive of being able to reduce children's CLABSI rates. It will publish updated findings from the NACHRI QTN in an upcoming issue.

About NACHRI: The National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions is a membership organization of more than 200 children's hospitals in the United States, Canada and abroad. NACHRI promotes the health and well-being of children and their families through support of children's hospitals and health systems that are committed to excellence in providing health care to children.

About Arkansas Children's Hospital: Arkansas Children's Hospital is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas and one of the largest in the United States serving children. The campus spans 29 city blocks and houses 316 beds, a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit healthcare facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research - all dedicated to fulfilling our mission of enhancing, sustaining and restoring children's health and development. ACH recently ranked No. 75 on FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®. For more information, visit

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