CICU reaches five years VAP-free

Last month, members of the UNC Hospitals Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) gathered with hospital leadership to celebrate the unit's incredibly rare accomplishment: going five years without a ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).

CICU reaches five years VAP-free click to enlarge The CICU's Outstanding Achievement Award
CICU reaches five years VAP-free click to enlarge CICU members celebrate going five years without a VAP.

The widespread use of mechanical ventilation to support the critically ill puts patients at a particularly high risk for developing healthcare-associated pneumonia, usually called ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). 

Since 2008, the CICU at UNC Hospitals has incorporated new practices to help reduce cases of VAP and keep their patients safe. CICU members knew that cases of VAP would be reduced through the changes they implemented. But last year the CICU celebrated four consecutive years without a VAP -- an accomplishment unheard of among CICUs nationwide -- and this year the CICU reached its fifth year of being VAP-free. 

“This is an amazing accomplishment, and none of us is aware of any unit at any hospital that has achieved this," said Dr. Brian Goldstein, chief operating officer at UNC Hospitals. "It's stunning to me."

Health care infections are the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States with 100,000 deaths per year. And ventilator associated pneumonias have among the highest mortality rate of those infections.

“We all went to school to be in this profession because we wanted to help people," said Dr. Goldstein to members of the CICU last month. "Challenges sometimes prevent us from achieving those goals in the ways that we expected. It's refreshing to be able to focus on this very specific thing you’ve done for patients and families."

To read more about the CICU's accomplishments, check out our feature story about the unit when it reached the four-year mark.

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