Infection Control Initiatives

Reducing infections is a top priority at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute because many of our patients receive therapies that may make them more prone to infection. Clinical and administrative staff work together to reduce infections in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.

In order to protect our patients, we ensure that clinical standards of care are met when providing treatments that may increase the risk of infection. We also offer novel patient education tools to all patients and families.

Infection prevention is focused on these key areas: 

  • Flu Vaccination Program
  • Hand hygiene
  • Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection [CLABSI] prevention
  • Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) prevention (inpatient only)

Flu Vaccination Program

In 2017, 99 percent of medically eligible Dana-Farber staff members received the flu vaccine, giving Dana-Farber Cancer Institute one of the highest vaccination rates among Massachusetts hospitals. Find out how Dana-Farber is using a universal vaccination requirement to keep our patients and staff safe.

Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways we prevent the spread of infections among patients, visitors, and staff. For many years, the Infection Control team at Dana-Farber has monitored staff compliance with hand hygiene on a monthly basis in both the inpatient and ambulatory settings, and has conducted communications campaigns to enhance compliance.

Hand hygiene compliance scores are shared with hospital leaders, unit managers, and frontline staff. Data is provided to the unit in real time, in order to assess any opportunities for improvement. Routinely, the Infection Control team provides education to new staff on hand hygiene practices. Dana-Farber monitors hand disinfection practices of all clinicians who have contact with patients. In both the inpatient and outpatient settings, we directly observe hand hygiene in clinical areas.

CLABSI Prevention and Monitoring

Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI) Reduction

The prevention of central line-associated bloodstream infections is of vital importance. More than 50 percent of our hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant patients have central or tunneled lines. Our multi-disciplinary team of ambulatory and inpatient staff work together to identify practices and products that will help decrease the risk for central line bloodstream infections. These safe practices are focused on line care maintenance, rather than insertion. Huddles with clinical staff are carried out with each identified health care related CLABSI. We measure CLABSI rates for both our inpatient beds as well as in the ambulatory (outpatient) area.

One of the fundamental components of preventing CLABSI is providing patient education. In the ambulatory area, in response to a line care knowledge gap identified via patient interviews, a Dana-Farber team developed patient education materials, including teaching sheets and videos. These materials help adult patients care for their central lines at home. A different series of central line videos has been designed for pediatric families.

Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI) Monitoring

Dana-Farber monitors the rate of Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infections (CLABSI) within our patient populations. Dana-Farber is one of few centers in the country to track CLABSI in ambulatory patients, and the only comprehensive cancer center in the country to monitor pediatric-specific CLABSI in an ambulatory setting.

View CLABSI rates for pediatric ambulatory patients

View CLABSI rates for adult ambulatory patients

View CLABSI rates for adult inpatients

CAUTI Prevention and Monitoring

Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) Prevention

Monitoring catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) began in January 2013 among our oncology and bone marrow transplant inpatients. The goal of this initiative is to prevent CAUTIs for our patients who have Foley catheters in place for at least 2 days, while on the inpatient units at Dana-Farber. Several safe practices, such as disinfecting the Foley bag port with alcohol before accessing the system and keeping the Foley bag below the patients' waist, have been put into place to help reduce the incidence of these infections. Our infection control specialists work closely with the inpatient care team to ensure adherence to all the safe practices.

Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection Monitoring

Dana-Farber monitors the rate of Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI) within inpatient populations. The CAUTI rate for adult patients in Dana-Farber's Inpatient Hospital is submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and data will be available on the Hospital Compare website in 2015.