Decreasing driveline infections in patients supported on ventricular assist devices: a care pathway approach

BMJ Open Qual. 2022 May;11(2):e001815. doi: 10.1136/bmjoq-2022-001815.


Background: Driveline infections (DLIs) are a common adverse event in patients on ventricular assist devices (VADs) with incidence ranging from 14% to 59%. DLIs have an impact on patients and the healthcare system with efforts to prevent DLIs being essential. Prior to our intervention, our program had no standard driveline management presurgery and postsurgery. The purpose of this Quality Improvement (QI) initiative was to reduce DLIs and related admissions among patients with VAD within the first year post implant.

Methods: In anticipation of the QI project, we undertook a review of the programs' current driveline management procedures and completed a survey with patients with VAD to identify current barriers to proper driveline management. Retrospective data were collected for a pre-QI intervention baseline comparison group, which included adult patients implanted with a durable VAD between 1 January 2017 and 31 July 2018. A three-pronged care pathway (CP) was initiated among patients implanted during August 2018 to July 2019. The CP included standardised intraoperative, postoperative and predischarge teaching initiatives and tracking. Using statistical process control methods, DLIs and readmissions in the first year post implant were compared between patients in the CP group and non-CP patients. P-charts were used to detect special cause variation.

Results: A higher proportion of CP group patients developed a DLI in the first year after implant (52% vs 32%). None developed a DLI during the index admission, which differed from the non-CP group and met criteria for special cause variation. There was a downward trend in cumulative DLI-related readmissions among CP group patients (55% vs 67%). There was no association between CP compliance and development of DLIs within 1 year post implant.

Conclusion: The CP did not lead to a reduction in the incidence of DLIs but there was a decrease in the proportion of patients with DLIs during their index admission and those readmitted for DLIs within 1 year post implant. This suggests that the CP played a role in decreasing the impact of DLIs in this patient population. However, given the short time period of follow-up longer follow-up will be required to look for sustained effects.

Keywords: Healthcare quality improvement; Performance measures; Quality improvement; Statistical process control.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Critical Pathways
  • Heart-Assist Devices* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections* / epidemiology
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections* / etiology
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections* / prevention & control
  • Retrospective Studies