Toyota Helped Reduce a Certain Type of Blood Infection by 75% Using Production Principles


In collaboration with four children’s hospitals, using production principles, Toyota has managed to reduce central line infections by 75%.

Credit: TSSC

Advisor for TSSC, Scott Dickson, joined forces with Amy Taylor, clinical manager of Gastroenterology, including other staff members at Children’s Health in Dallas, to work on finding a solution to the problem of central line-associated blood stream infections.

Scott Dickson has worked the past five years as a senior advisor for Toyota, with 10 years experience prior to this with Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC). Although he says his career has been very rewarding, he’s also admitted it was especially meaningful to collaborate with four children’s hospitals in 2016.

“When you see a sick child at a hospital, it gets pretty emotional,” says Dickson. “If there’s any way we can do something to help them, we’re going to do it. I felt very blessed to get to do this.”

Credit: TSSC

In his work in partnership with the hospital, they all shared a similar challenge. Much too often, young people were fitted with a central line, which is a plastic tube placed in the large vein that routes to the heart, were contracting infections. These infections are referred to as Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection.

According to the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing published a study, show 250,000 infections occur each year at hospitals across the USA. The infections are serious, but quite often are treated successfully, however, the countermeasures cost more than $6 billion dollars annually.

South Carolina Hospital Association

All four parts of the institutions that took part in the TSSC project were left baffled and frustrated trying to tackle this persistent issue, as they were already following strict hygiene protocol. Somehow, the harmful bacteria, as well as other germs, were getting past their defenses.

Dickson spent time at each hospital observing and taking notes, trying to figure out the issues. His unbiased perspective proved to be the turning point. In every case, it was noticed that healthcare practitioners were following the proper hygiene protocol until they got into the rooms where the children were being treated. For example, although nurses wore sterile gloves to operate a medical device, they may unknowingly place that device on a non-sterile counter or blanket.

Credit: TPS

“What they thought was the problem and what was actually the problem turned out to be very different things,” says Dickson. “There’s no way we would have figured it out if we hadn’t spent time at each site and talked with the nurses on the floor.”

After identifying the problem, Dickson got to work using Toyota’s problem-solving methodology to find a solution! They applied TPS standardization prinicaps to set out steps that everyone who might come into contact with patients had clear rules to follow. Dickson said, “The way we systemically break down a problem was completely foreign to the people at the hospitals,” says Dickson. “In the end, their reaction was: ‘Oh, my gosh. We never thought of that’.”

Credit: TSSC

Within the first six months of the full implementation alone, the goal was to reduce the amount of infections by 50% at the four hospitals, however, they actually managed to get them down 75%. They now plan on implementing this same structure at hospitals across the country.

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