We aimed to reduce late-onset bacterial infections in infants born at 22 to 29 weeks' gestation by using collaborative quality-improvement methods to implement evidence-based catheter care. We hypothesized that these methods would result in a 50% reduction in nosocomial infection.


We conducted an interrupted time-series study among 24 Ohio NICUs. The intervention began in September 2008 and continued through December 2009. Sites used the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Breakthrough Series quality-improvement model to facilitate implementation of evidence-based catheter care. Data were collected monthly for all catheter insertions and for at least 10 observations of indwelling catheter care. NICUs also submitted monthly data on catheter-days, patient-days, and episodes of infection. Data were analyzed by using statistical process control methods.


During the intervention, NICUs submitted information on 1916 infants. Of the 242 infections reported, 69% were catheter associated. Compliance with catheter-insertion components was >90% by April 2009. Compliance with components of evidence-based indwelling catheter care reached 80.4% by December 2009. There was a significant reduction in the proportion of infants with at least 1 late-onset infection from a baseline of 18.2% to 14.3%.


There was a 20% reduction in the incidence of late-onset infection after the intervention, but the magnitude was less than hypothesized, perhaps because compliance with components of evidence-based care of indwelling catheters remained <90%. Because nearly one-third of infections were not catheter associated, improvement may require attention to other aspects of care such as skin integrity and nutrition.

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