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West Coast leads systemic fight against infections

6 August, 2014

West Coast leads Australasia in systemic fight against infections

In a first for Australasia, the West Coast DHB is using software in both its hospitals and general practices that could help identify any superbug outbreaks and will track resistance to antibiotics.

A World Health Organisation report released in May this year warned of increasing resistance to antibiotics and the presence of drug-resistant superbugs in New Zealand. The ICNet system introduced into the West Coast in April has the ability to track any patterns of resistance or outbreaks of superbugs.

The West Coast DHB is unique in that it operates most of the coast’s general practices and captures all the laboratory test information. This enables the ICNet system to be applied across both primary and secondary healthcare to monitor and assist with real time management of infections.

West Coast DHB Clinical Nurse Specialist, Infection Prevention and Control, Julie Ritchie says the computer software system replaces a previous paper-based system that was far less efficient. The introduction of ICNet has been facilitated because the West Coast DHB Lab is part of the Lab Net Group, which also includes Canterbury, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay laboratories.

West Coast and Canterbury DHBs Hospital Support & Laboratories General Manager Trevor English says the West Coast experience is very important for DHBs around the country.

“Infections are really one of the most serious risks to both patients and the health system worldwide. A system like this that greatly improves our ability to track and manage infections from a patient’s first visit to a doctor for tests through to their stay in hospital is going to be hugely beneficial for our patients.”

Advantages of using the system include significant time savings for infection control teams, increased patient contact, a reduction in ward outbreaks, increased education at the ward level and quicker interventions preventing relapses and cross infection.

“There is a big push on about antibiotic overuse. This system would pick something up as soon as the lab result was out, identifying antimicrobial resistance organisms such as MRSA (a strain of staph bacteria that has become hard to treat),” Julie says.

If someone had, for instance, contracted MRSA, that person may need to be isolated. Notification of this situation would go on to ICNet and would be managed by Julie contacting the health professionals dealing with the patient.

The software automates the collection of laboratory results, surgical and patient admission details into its browser-based display. Julie describes it as easy to manage.

“I can see how it’s going to improve the flow of information and ultimately that’s better for the patients, the community and those health professionals who are trying to keep patients safe and well,” Julie says.


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