Proponents of healthcare quality initiatives are calling on HHS to reverse its decision to shutter a promising infection-control program under way in intensive-care units at hospitals across Michigan.
The program involves a five-step infection-control checklist developed by Peter Pronovost at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, a leading authority on reducing mortality in ICUs. The checklist involves simple steps, such as washing hands and wearing sterile gloves and gowns prior to inserting intravenous lines into patients.
The HHS Office for Human Research Protections shut down the program in late 2007, citing violations of patient informed-consent regulations because it classified the checklist as an experimental treatment. Johns Hopkins had planned to expand the program to New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Karen Linscott, acting chief executive officer of the Leapfrog Group, in a Jan. 2 letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, urged the agency to reverse its decision. The checklist is a far cry from an experimental drug for which informed consent is crucial, she wrote. Daniel Sisto, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, said the ruling could have a chilling effect on quality initiatives at hospitals nationwide and called it an absurd policy and a dangerous threat to patient care.
Michigan hospitals are working with the HHS to get the program restarted, a spokesman for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association said. -- by Rebecca Vesely
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