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Hospital streamlines TB tracking

Decreases airborne isolation time while protecting patients, public health

Published: February 3, 2016
By Tyler Smith
A quality-improvement initiative at University of Colorado Hospital has reduced dramatically the average time patients at low risk for tuberculosis (TB) spend in airborne isolation units to rule out the disease. The success comes at a time when the number of patients at risk for TB who are admitted to the hospital is growing.
The project, which involved representatives of several areas (see box), streamlined the process for ruling out TB in patients who have symptoms of the disease and must be isolated in negative air-pressure units. The components include an order set for physicians in the Epic electronic health record; an algorithm for nurses and respiratory therapists (RTs) responsible for collecting sputum for analysis; and a method for direct communication between the Microbiology Lab and Respiratory Therapy when a sputum sample is inadequate.