Background: Continual improvement is a necessary part of hospital culture. This occurs by identifying opportunities for improvement that influence efficiency while saving money.

Methodology: An investigation of intravenous device-related practices was performed by the nurses of the intravenous access team, pharmacy, and hospital operations at Hartford Hospital using Lean Six Sigma methodology. Central venous access device occlusion and tissue plasminogen activator variability was identified. Using observation, measurement of performance, and root cause analysis, the hospital's practices, policies, and equipment were evaluated for the process of occlusion management. The team utilized a Six Sigma strategy employing the elements define, measure, analyze, improve, and control, which is a disciplined, data-driven methodology that focuses on eliminating defects (waste). Interventions initiated based on the assessment performed by the team using the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control approach included replacement of negative displacement needleless connectors with antireflux needleless connectors and specialty team assessment before tissue plasminogen activator use.

Results: Over the course of the 26-month study, Hartford Hospital experienced a 69% total reduction in tissue plasminogen activator use representing a total 26-month savings of $107,315. Other cost savings were reflected in areas of flushing, flushing disposables, and in a decrease in needleless connector consumption. Central line-associated bloodstream rates fell 36% following the intervention as an unexpected secondary gain, resulting in further savings related to treating this nonreimbursable hospital-acquired condition.

Conclusions: This study examined the influence of using Lean Thinking and Six Sigma methodology as a tool in saving hospital money, resulting in better patient outcomes.

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