Kettering General Hospital trust in Northamptonshire is piloting a new way of tackling healthcare-acquired infections.

Riding high on the success of its accident and emergency 'greet and treat' initiative, Kettering General Hospital trust in Northamptonshire is piloting a new way of tackling healthcare-acquired infections.

With one of the worst rates of C difficile in the country, the trust board devised a plan including an isolation ward, more infection-control nurses and a 'blitz team' of cleaners.

Between Christmas and New Year infection-control nurse specialist Dawn Westmoreland and director of nursing and midwifery Denise McMahon began discussing how they could develop this work.

Key risk factors

The result was the Kettering Infection Predictor (KIP). 'There was a vulnerable category of patient, so we developed six key risk factors that can contribute to developing an HAI,' says Denise McMahon.

'When a patient arrives at hospital they are scored against these factors, which include age, previous admission, antibiotic status, where they are coming in from, such as nursing homes. The purpose is to pick up those at very high risk and develop a pathway of prevention.'

Ms McMahon hopes that the KIP tool will address some root causes of infections such as C difficile and MRSA and break the chain that can lead to people developing them.

'The toolkit enables meaningful conversations with families and helps us educate staff that this is about more than washing hands,' Ms McMahon continues.

'It is important in terms of litigation. The public want to know if infection is avoidable. The toolkit enables us to know where the problem began. Patients' notes will say that they were considered against all factors - it is a responsible way to handle patients.'