Surgical site infections (SSIs)—common hospital-acquired infections that are costly and can lead to increased morbidity and mortality—can occur at any surgical site and at any stage of the surgical process. Realizing the prevalence and burden of SSIs, HBI’s Cost & Quality Academy focused on these infections in its latest best practice report, entitled Best Practices in Reducing Surgical Site Infections: Infection Prevention Strategies, which features hospitals and health systems that have incorporated successful prevention tactics in one of four main categories: overarching practices for general surgeries, colorectal procedures, orthopedic and neurosurgical cases, and gynecologic surgeries.
Overarching Practices for General Surgeries
Aware of how SSIs account for more than one-third of the annual costs resulting from hospital-acquired infections, various organizations are implementing numerous prevention tactics. Such tactics include standardizing perioperative surgery procedures and assembling a multidisciplinary team in which every team member applies their specialized training and knowledge to SSI prevention. Additionally, predictive models that calculate patient risk for developing an SSI can be an effective prevention method, as can universal hand hygiene protocols.
As colorectal SSIs are one of the most frequently occurring SSIs and are associated with high mortality and readmission rates, many organizations are employing comprehensive interventions to prevent them, such as enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols, which decrease patient length of stay along with SSI rates. Other organizations rely on evidence-based care bundles where the entire surgical process, including antibiotic administration and bowel preparation, is standardized—in order to avoid deviation from best practices and prevent colorectal SSIs.
Orthopedic and Neurosurgical Cases
Orthopedic SSIs, especially those caused by hip and knee replacement procedures, can be particularly challenging to avoid due to the large geriatric population who undergo these procedures. Tactics to prevent orthopedic SSIs include preoperative bathing, S.aureus screenings, patient education on infection prevention, and early ambulation. Similarly, to the occurrence of SSIs in neurosurgery patients, some organizations are implementing preoperative protocols consisting of S.aureus screening, skin integrity inspection, and chlorhexidine (CHG) bathing.
As hysterectomies and cesarean deliveries are two of the most commonly performed surgeries in women of reproductive age, gynecologic SSIs are of great concern for hospitals and health systems. To prevent these infections, many organizations clean patient skin prior to surgery with CHG wash, and some high-achieving facilities have invested in unique surgical dressing that keeps the wound area dry. For this patient population, it is also important to manage blood glucose levels and maintain appropriate oxygenation in efforts to reduce SSIs.
To learn more about different ventures undertaken by top-performing organizations in infection prevention, check out the best practice report recently published by HBI’s Cost & Quality Academy. Not a member? Complete the form below to hear how you can gain unlimited access to HBI‘s resources!