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Maryland’s hospitals have already endeavored to get more doctors to wash their hands, and now they are moving onto another means of passing infection. The hospitals are joining a nationwide initiative to eliminate bloodstream infections.

Called On the CUSP (Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program), the program is voluntary. It was developed by Johns Hopkins safety guru Dr. Peter Pronovost, and is administered in the state by the Maryland Hospital Association and the Maryland Patient Safety Center.

It's based on checklists, staff education and expert consultation. The goal is to reduce central line-associated bloodstream infections. There are now some 250,000 of them occurring every year across the country.

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"The program works," said Pronovost, director for the Quality and Safety Research Group at Hopkins, in a statement. "On the CUSP will help ensure that Maryland patients received safer hospital care."

The infections often result from a central line or central vascular catheter, which is the tube used to provide sick patients with medicine, fluids, nutrients or blood.

The Hospital Association points to a recent CDC report that shows Maryland had 222 preventable infections in the first six months of 2009 – an unacceptable number, officials say.

During a pilot program in Michigan, infections dropped by 60 percent. Maryland is among 30 states that have since signed on.

So, think a voluntary program is enough?

Here are the participating hospitals:

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland Anne Arundel Medical Center; Atlantic General Hospital; Baltimore Washington Medical Center; Calvert Memorial Hospital; Carroll Hospital Center; Chester River Hospital Center; Civista Medical Center; Doctors Community Hospital; Fort Washington Medical Center; Franklin Square Hospital Center; Frederick Memorial Healthcare System; Good Samaritan Hospital; Greater Baltimore Medical Center; Harbor Hospital; Holy Cross Hospital; Howard County General Hospital; Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation; Maryland General Hospital; Mercy Medical Center; Montgomery General Hospital; Northwest Hospital Center; Peninsula Regional Medical Center; Prince George's Hospital Center; Shady Grove Adventist Hospital; Shore Health System (Memorial Hospital at Easton and Dorchester General Hospital); Sinai Hospital; Southern Maryland Hospital Center; Saint Agnes Hospital; St. Joseph Medical Center; St. Mary's Hospital; Suburban Hospital; The Johns Hopkins Hospital; Union Hospital; Union Memorial Hospital; University of Maryland Medical Center; University Specialty Hospital; Upper Chesapeake Health (Harford Memorial Hospital and Upper Chesapeake Medical Center); Washington Adventist Hospital; Washington County Hospital; and Western Maryland Health System.

Chicago Tribune photo

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