TeleHealth technology is playing a vital role in Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) being one of the leading DHBs in the country to reduce hospital acquired blood infections.CDHB Intensive Care Specialist, Dave Knight, says Christchurch Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has been central line associated bacteraemia (CLAB) free for the last 250 days and an important aspect of this achievement is the "sterling work" the CDHB TeleHealth service is doing to support it. TeleHealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via video conferencing technologies. About half of patients admitted to ICU will require a central venous catheter (a bloodstream catheter put into a large vein)."Last year about 43 critically ill patients developed CLAB while in ICUs across the country. Once established a CLAB carries a 10-50 percent mortality rate and adds between $20,000 to $50,000 to the hospital bill," Dr Knight says.The measurement and prevention of CLAB has become one of the major quality targets for the critical care community. "The end result will be safer patient care, shorter stays in ICU and reduced cost – which can be spent on healthcare improvements."The goal of the national CLAB project, which is supported by the Health Quality and Safety Commission, is collaboration between all 20 DHBs to coordinate a quality improvement initiative targeting elimination of CLAB in ICU patients. "It is widely acknowledged that Christchurch provides one of the most successful regional hubs for coordination and communication. One of the reasons we are blessed with this accolade is thanks to the tireless, patient work of the TeleHealth team."We now have access to weekly South Island wide communication and bimonthly national collaborative meetings. These meetings are set up by TeleHeath with a variety of variable technical requirements.""This is a fantastic service which is often unrecognised and provides for many projects around CDHB," Dr Knight says.Michael Sullivan, CDHB Clinical Leader for TeleHealth, says CLAB's use of video conferencing is an important part of the broad TeleHealth strategy encompassing CDHB and the West Coast DHB, as well as health services throughout New Zealand."Trevor English, General Manager, Hospital Support and Laboratories, says TeleHealth is proving to be a fantastic tool. "We are proud of the TeleHealth achievements in the CDHB and the benefits this work is showing to the way we deliver services.
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