Safety program helped cut SNF infection rates by more than 50%

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The rate of catheter-associated urinary tract infections fell by 54% for a cohort of long-term care facilities that took part in a patient safety program, according to research published Friday.

The Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, or CUSP, was rolled out in more than 400 nursing homes in 38 states between 2014 and 2016. The project was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The CUSP program emphasizes leadership, communication, teamwork and a culture of safety in long-term care facilities. It also encourages evidence-based infection prevention practices, such as not ordering urine cultures for the majority of residents who don't have symptoms.

The study's University of Michigan-based research team found CUSP helped reduce catheter-associated UTI rates from 6.4 to 3.3 per 1,000 catheter days over the study period. Orders for urine cultures also dropped by 15%.

Seventy-five percent of nursing homes that participated showed an infection reduction rate of at least 40%, a statistic that shows the CUSP project could benefit most providers, researchers said.

“This project is an example of translating research into practice using innovative implementation strategies and by empowering front-line teams,” said lead author Lona Mody, M.D.

Amanda Calhoun, RN, assistant director of nurses and CAUTI team leader at one facility that participated in the program, said it “was much more than just learning about urine cultures, antibiotics and catheters.”

“It gave me the confidence to help improve the care of the people in our community,” Calhoun said.

Full results of the CUSP project appear online in JAMA Internal Medicine. AHRQ also released a CAUTI reduction toolkit for providers along with the study's findings.