University of Pennsylvania Health System

Reducing the Risk of Health Care-acquired Infections

One of the best ways to eliminate mortality and readmissions is to reduce infection and complication rates. Incorporating a comprehensive unit-based safety program such as Penn Medicine’s Unit Based Clinical Leadership (UBCL) team has led to a decrease in hospital-acquired infections and has saved hundreds of lives.

In the past several years, Penn Medicine's "Blueprint for Quality" resulted in substantial improvements in areas such as central line blood stream infections and catheter associated urinary tract infections.

These achievements are due largely in part to the system’s focus on improving processes on the nursing units and focusing on the individual patient’s needs. Penn Medicine has also implemented a system-wide initiative to recognize units that keep patients free from hospital-acquired infections such as central line blood stream infections, urinary tract infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia.  Penn has found the awards to be a tremendous source of pride for the units and a great motivator for continued high performance.

How to Prevent Hospital Acquired Infections with Hand washing

In order to keep infection down, Penn complies with all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hand hygiene guidelines. The number one thing you can do to help prevent an infection is to make sure that all doctors, nurses, aides and other healthcare providers wash their hands before and after they care for you. Please also ask your visitors to wash their hands.

It is also important for everyone to dry their hands. Bacteria and viruses love moist, damp areas and will spread to damp hands – so getting hands dry is just as important as washing them.

If you do not see your visitors wash and dry their hands, please ask them to do so. It is your right to expect and receive the best care possible.

Other ways that you can help prevent an infection while in the hospital:

  • Tell your nurse right away if your gown or linens are soiled.
  • Ask your friends and family if they are not feeling well, to please not visit you or anyone in the hospital.
  • If recommended, get vaccinated. Flu, pneumonia, and other vaccines can help prevent illness – particularly in young children, the elderly, and other high-risk patients.