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Cook Children’s Works To Prevent Infection In Babies

By Melissa Newton, CBS 11 News
Cook Children's Medical Center Fort Worth

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Cook Children’s Medical Center has found a way to prevent blood stream infections in some of its most critical patients: The babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Officials said the preventive procedures could soon become the standard for hospitals nationwide.

Alexa Huffington was just one day old when she was flown by air ambulance from Abilene to Cook Children’s.

“We found out she had Down syndrome and then they did all the heart tests on her and found out she had two holes [In her heart] and her aorta wasn’t working,” her father Mark Huffington said. “You’re full of stress, anxiety and your heart is pretty heavy at that time because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Alexa spent her first days of life in the NICU.

“The tiny babies especially, they’re very immune-compromised so their systems are not able to fight off the bacteria like maybe we would be.” said Barbara Greer, NICU Nursing Director.

Because of that, blood stream infections are quite common in NICU’s across the country, but at Cook Children’s that isn’t the case anymore.

The medical center has gone a year without a single infection, due to procedures implemented to prevent bacteria from entering the bloodstream through intravenous lines and catheters.

“It’s always been kind of common that if you stay in the NICU long enough you’re going to get a blood stream infection,” Greer said. “Our goal is never to have another one.”

About 800 babies came through the neonatal intensive care within the past year, making the accomplishment even more significant.

The hospital created a two-person team to oversee the units nursing staff, and makes sure they are entering lines correctly, disinfecting them properly.

The NICU has a checklist to ensure the team is doing everything possible to prevent an infection each time a procedure is done.

Other hospitals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have taken notice. They’re now looking to Cook Children’s for guidance.

One of their nurses will represent the National Association of Neonatal Nurses on a CDC committee to develop new guidelines for NICU’s nationwide.

In December, the same PICC nurse will present their prevention procedures to the Vermont Oxford Quality Congress in Washington, D.C.