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Fending Off Hospital Superbugs

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— Digital Vision/Getty Images

After 18 months, according to the December 2006 New England Journal of Medicine, the median rate of bloodstream infections in the Michigan ICUs had plunged to zero, saving an estimated 1,500 lives.

Experts say that controlling the spread of superbugs isn’t rocket science. Indeed, Pronovost has said that precisely because the stakes are high and the problems complex, the to-do list must be “ruthlessly simple.” That way there’s no excuse for not following these lifesaving measures.

Now Pronovost’s approach is being tested in England, Ireland, Spain and in many U.S. hospitals. It’s already keeping patients safe at the 77-bed Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont, Mich., where doctors and nurses convene each day to plan care for ICU patients. Stephanie Gustman, R.N., the unit’s clinical coordinator, says, “We want to make sure we’re doing everything that’s proven best practice for that patient.”

Katharine Greider lives in New York and writes about health and medicine.

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