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Lake Superior Quality Innovation Network named Mille Lacs Health System Long Term Care as an Infection Prevention and Control Data Champion in recognition of its successful participation in the national Nursing Home C. difficile Initiative. The initiative aimed to understand more clearly how often the bacteria Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) causes infections in nursing home residents.

Symptoms of C. difficile range from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Many cases of C. difficile occur after use of antibiotics. A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that C. difficile caused almost half a million infections among patients in the United States in a single year, with more than 100,000 of these infections occurring in people living in nursing homes. A federal study found that 70 percent of C. difficile infection-related harm to Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes could have been prevented.

As a participant in the initiative, Mille Lacs Health System accurately and consistently collected and tracked its C. difficile data for each month of 2018 and submitted it into CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) database. “This is important and groundbreaking work by Mille Lacs Health System’s Long Term Care and all our Infection Prevention and Control Data Champions. They helped establish a baseline for C. difficile infections, which is an essential step in quality reporting and reduction of C. difficile in nursing homes,” Kathie Nichols, BSN, RN, CRRN, Stratis Health program manager, said.

The Nursing Home C. difficile Initiative is directed by Stratis Health, part of the Lake Superior Quality Innovation Network, serving Minnesota under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Quality Improvement Organization Program. Stratis Health supported nursing homes in submitting infection data, as well as how to implement antibiotic stewardship principles and other quality improvement practices that lead to better infection reporting and, ultimately, to better care and quality of life for nursing home residents.

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