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Infection Control on a Shoestring Budget

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, July 3, 2012

Nurse leaders need to maintain enthusiasm and make it easy for staff nurses to follow the protocol. In addition, everyone with a stake in infection outcomes—including nurse leaders, staff nurses, and physicians—should have be able to make suggestions for improvement.

Ferris also emphasizes paying attention to, and learning from, successes and failures. "You have to acknowledge what goes wrong, and you have to celebrate what goes right," she says.

For example, when a VAP occurs, her team meets immediately to discuss what happened. But when they find positive outcomes, they throw pizza parties.

Ferris has spent more than two decades in infection control. During most of that time, she says, sheacted more as an "infection accountant," counting the number of infections that occur. But since implementing these small changes with nurses, her role has changed.

"I got to become a preventionist," she says. "And that's far more exciting."

Duct tape and Ziploc bags aren't the only things Contra Costa Regional Medical Center introduced to reduce infections.

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