So when the results were final last year, HCA began implementing baths with CHG cloths in ICUs at each of its 165 hospitals across the country, says Edward Septimus, M.D., HCA's medical director for infection prevention and epidemiology.
While the new practice means a significant increase in products that must be provided by supply chain professionals, the results have been powerful in terms of keeping patients healthy.
In addition to using CHG cloths to reduce MRSA infections, hospitals also have found success recently by using alcohol caps that fit over medicine ports.
When the port is not in use, alcohol bathes the connector, a process that has been able to reduce infections.
The use of these alcohol caps is the newest product-based approach to preventing infections, having been in practice only during the past year or so, Septimus
"It's important to note that alcohol caps are considered a special approach and not a routine standard of care.
But for hospitals to continue to see decreased bloodstream infections, their use may be an effective strategy," he
"So now these kits have everything necessary to help healthcare professionals make sure they complete each step," Septimus
"The infection rate is higher if you use a different type of skin preparation or make other slight changes, so when our supply chain professionals package everything together, that helps us do it right every time."
For some infections, specific techniques in providing care are more important for preventing infections than the products used.
For instance, in certain populations, some hospitals have been using silver bladder catheters in an effort to reduce urinary tract infections, Septimus
However, a more definitive study published in 2012 showed that silver catheters did not reduce the occurrence of symptomatic urinary tract infections.
Instead, "it's more important to focus on techniques such as hand-washing, inserting catheters only when needed and taking them out when they are not needed," Septimus
For instance, the landmark MRSA study couldn't have been completed "without the supply chain having what we needed available to take care of every patient," Septimus
However, the products that are most effective in keeping patients healthy aren't always the most cost-effective ones.
And implementing new products or changing orders to help fight infections can be a lengthy, difficult process.
For that reason, it's vital that supply chain professionals understand how their purchasing decisions may impact the lives of patients.
"It's important for supply chain professionals to understand how they fit in as part of the team approach to healthcare," Septimus
says financial decision-makers should be involved from the beginning of a project to reduce hospital infections.
If not, a product may go through the stages of observation and recommendation, only to be refused by a budget officer because it wasn't included in the facility's budget.
By taking a long-term view, hospital personnel can focus on the savings of infection prevention purchases, rather than the immediate costs.
For instance, patients who leave the hospital with an infection may become disabled or require further hospitalization, which will result in further cost to society, if not the hospital itself.
"If we prevent a certain number of infections, not only are we saving lives, but we're saving money as well," Septimus