How a device change is helping a community hospital in California fight HAIs and alarm fatigue — 4 Qs with RN Karlee Campos

Hospital acquired infections remain a key clinical concern for hospitals and health systems. Critical care patients are among the most vulnerable to these often-life-threatening infections.

In 2019, clinical leaders at a community hospital in California identified an opportunity to potentially reduce pathogen exposure among vulnerable patients by making the switch to single-patient-use electrocardiography cables and lead wires.

Here, Karlee Campos, RN, discusses her organization's move away from reusable leads and how it has influenced patient care.

Question: Can you tell us about your background and your focus on infection prevention, especially among vulnerable patients?

Karlee Campos: I got my bachelor’s in nursing in 2014. Shortly after, I was hired into the new graduate program at my local community hospital. I joined the telemetry unit, which is actually a step-down intensive care unit. We share the same floor as the ICU itself. Our patients are oftentimes very, very sick. They're either freshly downgraded out of ICU or ready to go into ICU. Some of our telemetry patients are stable, but some are dependent on mechanical ventilation. They usually have feeding tubes, Foley catheters and many long-dwelling central lines. It's a highly vulnerable population. They have a greater risk of acquiring an infection in the hospital.

In the last three years, I've tried to participate in activities or committees at my hospital to really bring about change and process improvements. I work on our professional practice committee, and we do a lot of great process improvement projects. In 2019, my manager and I put together a quick pilot trial for the Kendall DL single-patient-use cable and lead wire system. We implemented them for a week on our unit and got an astounding amount of positive feedback. When we went back to our reusable wires, everyone was coming to me and asking "Where are those pink wires that we had? We love those, bring them back."

It's taken some time, but I’m so excited that our hospital has finally fully transitioned to the KDL product and we're all really happy about it.

Q: Could you tell us more about the rationale behind your hospital's adoption of single-patient-use ECD leads?

KC: We took a step back and really looked at our reusable lead wires. The first thing that jumped out at us was they are exposed to a lot of bodily fluids because of their anatomical position on the patient. Our process was after the patient was discharged, we would wipe the wires with just a basic sanitizing wipe and then let them dry. And as soon as we got another patient, which could be very quick, they go right onto another patient. We did our best to clean them, but you could tell that there’s still residue on the reusable wires. They're being used hundreds, thousands of times before they break or have to be replaced. It's really not the most infection preventative process, especially among such a vulnerable set of patients. When we came across these single-patient-use wires, going with them was almost a no-brainer.

Q: Now that you've used Kendall DL for about a year, what have been the results?

KC: This change is still somewhat new in terms of data tracing so the exact percent decrease has yet to be formally established. In the future, we may look into tracing Kendall DL’s influence on HAIs. We found that when we did switch over to the Kendall leads, there was a significant decrease in the incidence of false clinical alarms. A lot of staff members — everyone from nurses to technicians, charge nurses and others — everybody noticed a decline in false alarms. We've also had fewer incidents of leads coming off as well. The old, reusable leads would pop off more often.

Q: In addition to those outcomes, are there any other patient benefits you've noticed?

KC: In 2020, I mostly worked in our COVID-ICU. We encountered many critical situations where time was really important. Being able to cut down on time spent trying to establish connections with reusable wires was helpful. The new leads helped us hook up the patient fast. It helped us be more seamless when transferring patients and executing various tests and procedures. These tasks are important, but not something you want to worry about executing when you're trying to save a life.

To learn more about Kendall DL Single-patient-use Cable and Lead Wire System, click here.

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