Providers using 'germ inspectors' to prevent infections

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Hospitals are leading a charge by healthcare providers looking to dramatically improve healthcare-acquired infection rates and retain Medicare dollars. Recent actions will keep patients—and visitors—healthier, officials said.

The University of Maryland Medical Center has hired infection prevention to go on rounds with physicians, surgeons and nurses to figure out how to cut rates. The United States has only 8,000 to 9,000 infection prevention specialists, but they are usually relegated to studying a facility's infection statistics and keeping track of reports, the Associated Press reports.

At the University of Maryland hospital, however, specialists evaluate everything—whether it's watching to see if maintenance staff follow glove-changing protocol when removing trash from patient rooms or watching physicians adjust breathing tubes. So far, the additional efforts are paying off, the AP reported. Central line infections in the facility dropped 70% in the last year, while the surgical ICU went 24 weeks without an infection.