Infection Controls in Local Hospitals

I’ve recently received a number of emails like the one appearing below urging me to contact local hospitals to push them to adopt infection control protocols. This appears to be a nationally sponsored email campaign — in effect, planting many seeds hoping that a few sprout.

I fully support the thrust of this email and I know that hospitals are rightfully under increasing scrutiny on this issue. If anyone wants to take the lead in thinking through how it would be effective to advance this issue in Massachusetts, I’d be delighted to hear from them.


Representative William Brownsberger
State House, Room 276
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133-1099

Dear Representative Brownsberger,

With some encouragement from you, our local hospitals can save lives
and money by following a simple five-step checklist to prevent deadly
bloodstream infections in patients. It doesn’t take a new law, but it
will take some awareness and pressure from leaders like you to
encourage hospitals in our district to participate. I ask you to join
me in getting area hospitals to implement this life-saving checklist.

Each year more than 30,000 Americans die from bloodstream infections
they get from catheters while in the hospital. And just this week, the
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported an 8 percent
increase in these infections over the year before. These types of
infections add an average $42,000 to the hospital bills of each ICU

But a leading Johns Hopkins doctor developed a simple, low-cost
checklist that when used, cuts that deadly infection rate by
two-thirds. Dr. Peter Pronovost, a critical care specialist and
patient-safety researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,
developed a five-step checklist to prevent them.

When it was implemented in Michigan, central-line bloodstream
infections dropped by 66 percent, and was estimated to save more than
1,500 lives and $200 million in the first 18 months.

The five steps to inserting these “lines” or catheters are
easy: wash hands; disinfect the patient’s skin; use barrier precautions
– like masks, gowns and gloves; avoid placing the catheter in the groin
area; and remove unnecessary catheters. One more important step has to
be included: allow nurses to call attention to doctors who fail to
follow the checklist.

More hospitals are gradually adopting this proven checklist, but we
need leaders like you to get all of our area hospitals to join up. Dr.
Pronovost’s national program gives hospitals technical support on
implementing the checklist. To see which hospitals in your district are
participating, go to his program’s website at You can also
contact the Stop Bloodstream Infection project here:

This checklist is effective, it saves lives and money, and it doesn’t
cost the state anything. Would you please use your influence by urging
hospitals in your district to participate in this lifesaving program?

Having our area hospitals participate is a matter of life and death.
Your contact, asking them to begin using the checklist might be just
the incentive they need. Please let me know any hospitals that have
joined because of your efforts.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.