UF&Shands surgical intensive care unit celebrates national hospital quality award

The staff of the 4 East SICU at the Shands Cancer Hospital.

A surgical intensive care unit at Shands at the University of Florida was recognized this week for reducing hospital-associated infections.

The 4 East surgical intensive care unit at the Shands Cancer Hospital received an achievement award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Critical Care Societies Collaborative, a multidisciplinary organization composed of four major U.S. societies with an interest in critical care.

“This recognition once again shows the great strides we make every day in putting patient safety and quality of care first,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and UF&Shands Health System president. “The success of the 4 East surgical intensive care unit shows how we are moving forward in our goal of being a national model for health care delivery.”

Shands is the only facility in Florida to receive the award, and one of 12 nationwide.

“Our SICU team is proud to accept this national award,” said Lynn Westhoff, M.S.N., M.H.A., R.N., clinical leader in the unit. “It signifies our staff commitment to outstanding patient care and outcomes.”

To help celebrate this accomplishment, Clifford Deutschman, M.D., president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, a partner organization of the collaborative, visited the unit Monday.

“They should feel pride in a job well done,” Deutschman said. “Anything that reduces the risk of infection is important in an ICU because patients are particularly susceptible.”

Each year, about 41,000 hospital patients in the U.S. with central lines — tubes inserted into major veins to administer nutrients and medicine — contract bloodstream infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These preventable infections pose serious health risks; up to one in four patients who get a bloodstream infection die.

“With proper attention to sterility and technique, the incidence of infection should be quite low— but that’s not the case,” Deutschman said.

The Shands 4 East SICU is able to keep infection rates low by educating all staff members and following up with individuals to ensure compliance, Westhoff said.

The staff has overseen almost 14,000 central line cases since the unit opened in 2009. Of those, none has resulted in infection. In  comparison with the national average, 4 East SICU  averted 19 central line infections, saved two lives, avoided 38 inpatient days and saved an estimated $760,000.

“Being nationally recognized for reducing hospital-associated infections is a result of the constant attention of our bedside caregivers,” said Randy Harmatz, chief quality officer at UF&Shands. “We are committed to providing our patients with the best experience possible.”


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Marilee Griffin's picture

Marilee Griffin

Assistant Director of Communications, Cancer Center

Marilee Griffin is the assistant director of communications for the UF Health Cancer Center. She joined the UF Health Communications staff in 2012 as a writer and media relations assistant...Read More