SMART approaches for reducing nosocomial infections in the ICU

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33 Scopus citations


Nosocomial infections are problematic in the ICU because of their frequency, morbidity, and mortality. The most common ICU infections are pneumonia, bloodstream infection, and urinary tract infection, most of which are device related. Surgical site infection is common in surgical ICUs, and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea is occurring with increasing frequency. Prospective observational studies confirm that use of evidence-based guidelines can reduce the rate of these ICU infections, especially when simple tactics are bundled. To increase the likelihood of success, follow the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound (SMART) approach. Choose specific objectives that precisely define and quantify desired outcomes, such as reducing the nosocomial ICU infection rate of an institution by 25%. To measure the objective, monitor staff adherence to tactics and infection rates, and provide feedback to ICU staff. Make objectives achievable and relevant by engaging stakeholders in the selection of specific tactics and steps for implementation. Nurses and other stakeholders can best identify the tactics that are achievable within their busy ICUs. Unburden the bedside provider by taking advantage of new technologies that reduce nosocomial infection rates. Objectives should also be relevant to the institution so that administrators provide adequate staffing and other resources. Appoint a team to champion the intervention and collaborate with administrators and ICU staff. Provide ongoing communication to reinforce educational tactics and fine-tune practices over time. Make objectives time bound; set dates for collecting baseline and periodic data, and a completion date for evaluating the success of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-456
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Catheter-related bloodstream infection
  • Prevention
  • Surgical-site infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia


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