Researchers at Indiana University have identified common barriers and strategies for successfully implementing practice changes in intensive care units (ICUs). The study, published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, looked at six ICUs as they implemented evidence-based practices to reduce Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.

“Our research found that while implementation plans should be locally-derived, reducing and preventing the spread of infections in ICUs entails overcoming common barriers,” said Amber Welsh, PhD, from the Indiana University Center for Health Services and Research Outcomes.

In 2006, five Indianapolis-area hospitals began a systematic implementation of practices known to reduce the spread of MRSA, including active surveillance, hand hygiene, patient isolation, and the use of protective equipment like gowns and gloves. The researchers then interviewed team members from each hospital to identify common themes of successful implementation shared by all hospitals.

The researchers discovered five core themes common to all the hospitals:

  • Engage front line staff in implementation
  • Build a multi-disciplinary implementation team
  • Commit to data collection, management, and feedback
  • Acquire support of top management
  • Use process mapping and other problem-solving tools.

“The tendency of any organization unit is to say, ‘We’re different,’ implying that change efforts must be tailor-made for each unique group or culture,” said Welsh. “But our research shows that while units are unique, there are commonalities that can guide consideration and planning efforts to implement new practices. We hope that this study will help hospitals realize that change implementation is both a unique and universal activity.”

Source: Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America