Quality improvement projects targeting health care-associated infections: comparing Virtual Collaborative and Toolkit approaches

J Hosp Med. 2011 May;6(5):271-8. doi: 10.1002/jhm.873. Epub 2011 Feb 10.


Background: Collaborative and toolkit approaches have gained traction for improving quality in health care.

Objective: To determine if a quality improvement virtual collaborative intervention would perform better than a toolkit-only approach at preventing central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) and ventilator-associated pneumonias (VAPs).

Design and setting: Cluster randomized trial with the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) of 60 hospitals assigned to the Toolkit (n=29) or Virtual Collaborative (n=31) group from January 2006 through September 2007.

Measurement: CLABSI and VAP rates. Follow-up survey on improvement interventions, toolkit utilization, and strategies for implementing improvement.

Results: A total of 83% of the Collaborative ICUs implemented all CLABSI interventions compared to 64% of those in the Toolkit group (P = 0.13), implemented daily catheter reviews more often (P = 0.04), and began this intervention sooner (P < 0.01). Eighty-six percent of the Collaborative group implemented the VAP bundle compared to 64% of the Toolkit group (P = 0.06). The CLABSI rate was 2.42 infections per 1000 catheter days at baseline and 2.73 at 18 months (P = 0.59). The VAP rate was 3.97 per 1000 ventilator days at baseline and 4.61 at 18 months (P = 0.50). Neither group improved outcomes over time; there was no differential performance between the 2 groups for either CLABSI rates (P = 0.71) or VAP rates (P = 0.80).

Conclusion: The intensive collaborative approach outpaced the simpler toolkit approach in changing processes of care, but neither approach improved outcomes. Incorporating quality improvement methods, such as ICU checklists, into routine care processes is complex, highly context-dependent, and may take longer than 18 months to achieve.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00975923.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Cross Infection / diagnosis
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / trends*
  • Quality Improvement / trends*
  • User-Computer Interface*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00975923