International Recognition for Forth Valley Baby Care

Babies in the neonatal unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital are benefitting from new infection control procedures which have gained international recognition. The new measures have resulted in no hospital-related blood borne infections (Staph Auerus bacteria or SABs for short) for almost three years – this compares to a previous figure of one case every 39 days in 2009/10. The Scottish Government target is 1 in 300 days – Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s neonatal unit has not had a single case of SABs infection for more than 1065 days.

Senior Sister Anne Vallance in NHS Forth Valley’s neonatal unit, says the turnaround is due to staff commitment which has involved nursing and medical staff and the infection control team. She explained:

 It’s heartening that we are now gaining an international reputation for good practice. People are asking us to share our expertise and knowledge – we have already given a presentation at the Canadian Association of Neonatal Nurses national conference in Montreal and have now been invited to attend the Advanced Paediatric Nursing Forum in Washington DC. Indeed we are willing to share our experience of reducing infection with anywhere in the world for the benefit of all premature babies.”

To achieve this outstanding success, various measures were adopted.  As a result of extensive research, which included looking at data from other hospitals, the normal decontamination product used within the Unit was changed to one which contains a larger proportion of chlorhexidine, and yet is suitable for the skin of premature babies.Washable keyboards and disposable curtains were also introduced.

Staph Aureus bacteria infections can affect the skin, heart valves, bones and joints of tiny babies, and can also cause urinary tract infections. Staff not only  undertake infection control training, but   demonstrate effective hand washing  to parents too, using an ultra-violet light box which shows up any areas which have not been properly washed. This means parents have a sense of involvement.

Sister Vallance added:

 The Scottish Government wants every ward to have a Cleanliness Champion and 65% of our staff have now undertaken this training. We are really pleased with the fantastic result which has significantly improved the outcomes for newborn babies and reduced the stress and anxiety experienced by parents.”

Newborn babies who require hospital care are amongst the most vulnerable of all the patient groups and neonatal staff say they will be working hard to maintain their current record which shows the  last hospital-acquired blood-borne infection (SAB) in the neonatal ward was May l9th 2010.